“Ever since I began working in decent cocktail bars many moons ago, bartenders have been trying to push the dark, bitter and overtly aromatic onto unsuspecting customers, who for the most part, were just looking for a glass of boozy juice and a good time.”
Easing the ills of mankind with booze and herbs has a long history. It goes back at least to the days of Hippocrates, the ancient Greek known as the father of western medicine, who proffered a recipe for vermouth to cure jaundice, rheumatism and menstrual pain, among other things. He died in 370 BC but the idea of a herbal potion would kick on.
Well, thank goodness for the interGoogles. Never before have we had so many products to play with and often all it takes is a few clicks of the mouse – and then a lengthy wait for the product to cross the seas.
Living in today’s fast-paced, online world when something is trendy it spreads like the plague. Take the fashion industry, for example, one day an outfit is on the catwalk, it’s copied and sold everywhere, and a few weeks later everyone is wearing it.
Aromatic bitters: it is a trickier category for tastings than most, and requires a little more experience as bartender than do other drinks categories. Just as well we were at the Hazy Rose, in Darlinghurst. We sourced a surprise for this the issue, with the Hazy Rose crew among the first bartenders in Australia to get their hands on the Dale DeGroff Pimento Bitters.
Bitters have been around for centuries and they began life as ‘cure-all’ medicines. These days however they’re valued more for their aromatics than their supposed medicinal qualities, yet they’re still favourites as hangover cures and as appetite and digestion aids.
Australia’s leg of the global Angostura Cocktail Challenge is well under way thanks to a bumper turn out at the New South Wales state final on Monday night. Held at Sydney’s shrine to rum – La Bodeguita Del Medio – it was Rockpool Bar & Grill’s Neilsen Braid who proved he can stomach his bitters with the best of them by shrugging off the other competitors to take out the state title.
Always looking to the legends and forefathers of the bartending craft when creating new classics the Bitter Truth have now invoked the work of the ancient alchemists, with their latest creation Elixier: “a digestive liqueur that blurs the lines of conventional wisdom.”