Bitters have been around for far longer than many realize. For some it seems that the only version until the past ten years or so came from Trinidad in the iconic bottle with the oversized paper label. However, there was an American bitters that sold as well until shortly after World War II. Abbot’s Bitters were produced in Philadelphia, and they were called for in many classic cocktails pre- and post- prohibition.
Robert Petrie of Bob’s Bitters has recently sought to recreate these bitters. He explains, “Having been developed over the past five years, this is the first reformulated Abbotts Bitters that has been commercially available since the 1950s. Abbotts was aged for six months in a medium charred oak barrel. This process produced a more rounded, mellow flavour with many layers of complexity. We believe we have brought Abbotts Bitters into the 21st Century and, with the help of the modern barman, it can be used in many cocktails, like the Manhattan, Martini, El Presidente.”
Along with this redacted blended bitters, Bob’s also offers ten single flavor bitters. The idea being that if a bartender is looking to add just a touch of one particular flavor profile, it is right at hand.
Bob’s Abbotts Bitters: Lighter and more nutty than most aromatic bitters. These are easy-going and smooth with little of the usual nutmeg and cinnamon heavy flavor. Perfect in a Manhattan, and certainly a great addition to your bitters collection. GSN Rating: A
Bob’s Cardamom Bitters: Reminiscent of Indian spice-driven cuisine, these are very well done and perfect for use in gin and rum based cocktails. The cardamom flavor is slightly sweet, making them easy to blend into a drink without overwhelming the balance. GSN Rating: A-
Bob’s Chocolate Bitters: Dry, bittersweet chocolate that has an edge. The flavor is deep and rich with a slightly granular mouthfeel. Honestly, a minute after tasting these, I’d swear I just ate some chocolate. Nicely done. These will work with everything from brandy to vodka. GSN Rating: A+
Bob’s Coriander Bitters: Fresh and vibrant with a lively vegetal kick. A tasty bitters that is well worth your time exploring in custom cocktails. There’s a faint touch of Chartruese here that springs to mind. GSN Rating: B+
Bob’s Ginger Bitters: A decent amount of heat in these bitters balanced by a sweetness. Even if you weren’t to use these in a cocktail, they would be a great digestion aid in tea. Really tasty too. GSN Rating: A+
Bob’s Grapefruit Bitters: Not too bitter, these are more like ruby-red grapefruit. Luscious citrus offset by just enough bitter pith make these perfect for gin, vodka and rum cocktails. Like breakfast fruit in a bottle. GSN Rating: B+
Bob’s Lavender Bitters: Quite floral on the nose, the flavor is intense and much like eating a lavender breath lozenge. There is more bitterness here than I was expecting, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You’ll just need to be careful with the amount you use. A drop or two will do you fine. GSN Rating: B
Bob’s Liquorice Bitters: Very unique and true to the real qualities of licorice. Less anise and more of an intense sweetness that lingers for a long time. I can see these working with Scotches, Mezcals and even Rauchbiers. Definitely a bitters that fills a much-needed gap in the market. GSN Rating: A
Bob’s Orange & Mandarin Bitters: We probably didn’t need yet another iteration of orange bitters, but these are different. Almost burnt and caramelized orange peel is prominent, with a thick intensity. You will need just a dash to add orange flavor to a cocktail. GSN Rating: B+
Bob’s Peppermint Bitters: Bracing and minty, just one drop will transform your cocktail into a winter wonderland. Try these in Genever cocktails, hot chocolate, Irish Coffee or to add a touch of coolness to a tropical tiki styled beverage. GSN Rating: B+
Bob’s Vanilla Bitters: Much less sweet than the vanilla extracts you can find on your grocer’s shelves. Nonetheless a pleasant and natural vanilla flavor pervades and adds plenty of dessert-like flavor to cocktails. Great with bourbons, rums and vodkas. GSN Rating: A-
For more information go to: Bob’s Bitters