Sugar, spice, and everything nice — to drink!
If you’ve ever substituted allspice for cinnamon in your apple pie, you know how drastically a dash of flavor can change a dish. Any good cocktail is made up of 2 or 3 primary ingredients; alcohol plus something sweet (think simple syrup, or fortified wine) is the equivalent of your apples and crust. So what exactly is the ‘spice’ of the cocktail world? Well, that’s where bitters come in – the oft forgotten secret dash of flavor in your favorite drink.
Bitters are a liquid extraction of various plant parts – roots, bark, leaves, fruits, etc. – that are highly concentrated, and very bitter in taste. Their main use in cocktails is to bring out and compliment the subtler flavors in alcohol. The complex palate of whisky makes it a perfect complement to bitters, and each type of bitters brings out different aspects of the whisky.
The most common bitter is Angostura, a staple in cocktail making pre-prohibition, that has kept the market for bitters alive over the last 100 years. Today there are many different flavors of bitters. We decided to try something a little different – cardamom.
Cardamom is one of the oldest, and most expensive spices in the world. It has a paradoxical origin, having a long history in both India and Scandinavia. Cardamom bitters use the black cardamom spice, and that creates a flavor full of smoky mint, root/birch beer, and sassafras.
Paired with a rouge vermouth, the ‘Stevie P’ has a smooth finish, and brings out the sweet aromatics, and spices in the whisky of your choice – we went with Four Roses.
We created the ‘Stevie P’ for one of our favorite whisky dudes on his birthday, but it’s a great drink any time of year!
2 parts Bourbon
1 part Rouge Vermouth
4 Dashes of Cardamom Bitters
Garnish: 2 Luxardo Cherries
Mix bourbon, vermouth, and bitters in a boston shaker with ice, and shake to mix for 15 seconds. Strain into a glass over fresh ice, and add two luxardo cherries to garnish. Serve immediately.
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