Who was it who said, “You can never have too many bitters”? Oh, yeah, it was me.
These days, new esoteric bitters are available on a seemingly weekly basis. In the case of the San Francisco Bitters Company, they’ve gone one step further and reintroduced long lost bitters from the golden age of bartending. Their product line includes recipes formulated to replicate as closely as possible classic bitters like Boker’s, Abbott’s, Yerba Buena, Alpine Herb, along with Jamaica Ginger Extract and the elusive Amer Picon.
I was sent the following products for review, but they have many more to choose from which I hope to have a chance to review as a follow-up.
Ironically enough, the headquarters of SF Bitters is in Stephenville, Texas, a good distance from the city by the bay. Regardless, these are intriguing and great to try out when you’re perusing an old Jerry Thomas or William Schmidt recipe calling for something long forgotten.
Boker’s Bitters – Less intense than Adam Elmegirab’s version of Boker’s, these are instead very light, with a dry and grassy herbal quality. The recipe includes black catechu, sage and zedoary root.
GSN Rating: B-
Segalas Bitters – Based on Amer Picon, this version has a somewhat thin and less viscous quality, but one with an obvious Amaro influence. A strong bark flavor works well to create a digestif approach. Includes dried currants, carob bean, elder flowers and cape aloes.
GSN Rating: B
Reception Bitters – Inspired by Abbott’s bitters, these pack a load of great flavor. There is a bitter cherry taste that is quite intriguing and integral. These will work in just about anything calling for aromatic bitters. Ingredients include licorice root, cloves, and benzoin resin.
GSN Rating: A
Yerba Buena Bitters – A bitter, herbal and spicy blend that has notes of fresh cut mint and black pepper. Perfect for bourbon and light rum drinks. Includes spearmint, licorice root and cinnamon.
GSN Rating: B+
Comstock Bitters – Patterned after Alpine Herb bitters, these definitely are reminiscent of Ricola herb lozenges. There is a minty and quite bitter quality that is intense and refreshing. Ingredients include wormwood, aniseed, lavender flowers and spanish saffron. Quite unique.
GSN Rating: A+
Jamaica Ginger Bitters – Super hot and spicy with a hint of citrus. Unfortunately, a lot of the heat comes from capsicum, but still great for use in tropical drinks, rum and even gin based cocktails. Try a few drops in your next Dark & Stormy. Ingredients include ginger, grains of paradise, vanilla extract and capsicum.
GSN Rating: B+
For more information go to: San Francisco Bitters Company