It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of bitters, so the current cocktail renaissance that is allowing so many different bitters to come to market is keeping me very happy indeed. However, with quite so many different bitters coming out it can be hard to keep track and I even begin to wonder if I really need over 50 bottles of bitters. Of course the second I hear of a new brand coming out that doubt soon vanishes and I find myself reaching for the credit card to place an order.
Even when suffering with bitters fatigue one brand I follow with keen interest is The Bitter Truth. A Germany outfit ran by Stephan Berg and Alex Hauck, two former bartenders from Munich, they started out in 2006 with an “Old TIme” aromatic bitters and an orange bitters, and have since expanded the range to include, amongst others, a tribute to Jerry Thomas, the first modern celery bitters, and even a dried fruit bitters produced specially for the world’s most expensive cocktail at the Burj al-Arab Hotel in Dubai.
Consistently excellent, I always look forward to new releases from The Bitter Truth, and happily this month sees another product join the line up. Their latest bitters are influenced by creole cuisine and New Orleans cocktail history. An attempt to replicate what a creole cuisine influenced bitters from the nineteenth century might have tasted like, The Bitter Truth Creole bitters
The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters
Packaged in the 200ml bottle that is used for the new American editions, The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters feature a beautiful metalic-red floral-patterned label. The liquid itself is a fairly vivid cherry red colour, and has a light anise aroma. In the mouth a strong earthy anise flavour dominates, with just a hint of sweetness which quickly dissipates to reveal spices like cardamom and a subtle floral note. These linger as a medium bitterness develops on the finish along with some alcoholic heat.
The obvious bitters to compare these to is of course Peychaud’s, but while superficially they are similar – the bright red colour and anise flavours – the overall taste profile is quite different. Peychaud’s is more dominantly anise, and sweeter (though by no means over-sweet!) with a lighter more floral flavour. TBT Creole bitters on the other hand have a more complex combination of flavours with much more spice and bitterness, and a deeper, longer finish.
- 2 shots / 50 ml / 2 oz Cognac
- 2-3 bar-spoons sugar syrup
- 2 dashes The Bitter Truth Creole bitters
- 2 dashes absinthe
- Stir with ice and strain in to an old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon zest twist.
The Creole bitters bottle recommends the Improved Brandy Cocktail, which is more commonly referred to as a brandy Sazerac. The bitters work well here adding extra nuance to the Cognac and resulting in a well-rounded and complex cocktail. The bitters work similarly well in the traditional Sazerac, where they add a little less anise flavour than Peychaud’s but give the drink a slightly more aromatic edge. I found I needed just a touch more sugar syrup to counteract the heavier bitterness of the Creole bitters, but the overall result was great.
Sitting between a traditional aromatic bitters and Peychaud’s, The Bitter Truth Creole bitters offer a wonderful depth that really adds to cocktails. While I can see them working as a replacement for Peychaud’s I think the most interesting results will be found in their use as an alternative to traditional aromatic bitters in drinks like the Manhattan where they work very well. I also eagerly await the new cocktails that will undoubtably be inspired by Creole bitters.
Overall a great new bitters and a must for the shelves of anyone with more than a passing interest in cocktails.
Note: In the interests of full disclosure, The Bitter Truth Creole bitters reviewed here were supplied to me by The Bitter Truth.
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