Bitters are intimidating as hell. I mean, we get overwhelmed when 24 types of jam are put in front of us – and everyone knows what to do with jam. The most common reaction to the shop's 200 bitters tends to be something along the lines of “where do I start, but also what do I do with them!” It doesn’t help that finding recipes calling for something other than Angostura is actually pretty hard, oh and if you do find something, it probably calls for bottles you don't have at home. So what to do?
Easy, go with what you know! Choose a bitter with a flavor you love, then brainstorm ingredients that go with it. (The Flavor Bible is an amazing aid for finding complimentary combinations.) Choose a cocktail that uses one of the ingredients, or whose spirit contains those flavors. Add your bitters and pat yourself on the back, and you just invented a cocktail!
Here's a peak inside the mind palace build-out for one of my all-time favorites, two years and three bottles in I'm still totally enamored by this spicy number...
Let's go Spicy → Boy Drinks World Serrano, incredible balance between chile heat and vegetal pepper
Serrano pairs with: citrus, lime, orange, tropical fruits, spice, ginger, herbs, mint, basil, cucumber, vegetal, agave, cucumber, tomato
18 friendly cocktails, use a single drop for subtle flavor, or a full dropper’s worth for lots of heat.
- Margarita: 2 oz Tequila, 1 oz Orange Liqueur, 1 oz Lime Juice, up
- Mezcal Margarita: 2 oz Mezcal, 1/3 oz Agave Nectar, 1 oz Lime Juice, up
- Cucumber-Cilantro Margarita: 2 oz Blanco Tequila, 1/2 oz Orange Liqueur, 1/2 oz Simple Syrup, 1 oz Lime Juice, 3 sprigs Cilantro, 3 slices Cucumber, up
- ‘Ti Punch: 2 oz Agricole Rhum, 1 tsp Cane Syrup, 1/4 oz Lime Juice, rocks
- Passion Fruit Daiquiri: 2 oz Rum, 3/4 oz Passion Fruit Syrup, 3/4 oz Lime Juice, up
- Pineapple Gimlet: 2 oz Gin, 3/4 oz Pineapple Gum Syrup, 3/4 oz Lime Juice, up
- Gin Basil Smash: 2 oz Gin, 3/4 oz Simple Syrup, 3/4 oz Lemon Juice, 6 Basil leaves, up
- Brown Derby: 2 oz Bourbon, 3/4 oz Grapefruit Juice, 3/4 oz Honey syrup, up
- La Palabra: 1 oz Mezcal, 1 oz Green Chartreuse, 1 oz Orange Liqueur, 1 oz Lime Juice, up
- Chartreuse Swizzle: 1.5 oz Green Chartreuse, 1/2 oz Falernum, 1 oz Pineapple Juice, 3/4 oz Lime Juice, rocks
- Martini: 2.5 oz Gin, 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth, Lime Twist, up
- Mint Julep: 2.5 oz Bourbon, 1 oz Simple Syrup, 6 Mint leaves, crushed ice
- Moscow Mule: 2 oz Vodka, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, Ginger Beer, over ice
- Paloma: 2 oz Tequila or Mezcal, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, Grapefruit Soda, over ice
- El Diablo: 2 oz Tequila, ½ oz Crème de Cassis, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, Ginger Beer, over ice
- Mojito: 2 oz Rum, 3/4 oz Simple Syrup, 1/2 oz Lime Juice, 6 Mint leaves, Club Soda, over ice
- Tequila Tonic: 2 oz Tequila, Tonic Water, lime wedge, over ice
- Bloody Mary: 2 oz Vodka, 3 oz Tomato Juice, 1/4 oz Lemon Juice, 1/4 oz Lime Juice, Worcestershire, Hot Sauce, Horseradish, Celery Salt, Pepper, over ice