Bitter Truth Travel Set

If you are either one of the regulars here, you know that a Manhattan is a favorite here. We have even posted an entire article on making a Manhattan. One of the crucial ingredients is bitters. If you have enjoyed a Manhattan at a fancy bar or before dinner and wondered why your Manhattans at home don't taste the same way, the answer is probably that you don't have any bitters in the drink.

Below are some pictures of a great travel set of bitters that is available in Virginia ABC stores and online at retailers like Amazon. This set is around $20 in Virginia and about the same online. Scroll down for a review of what your $20 will get you.

You get five little 20 ml bottles of bitters in the travel set. For some people, this might be a lifetime supply.

Starting from right to left, here is what you get:

  • Aromatic bitters - These are great in a Manhattan and mimic the classics bitters out there, like angostura.
  • Orange bitters - Take the aromatic and hit it with a punch of orange flavor. These are also great in a Manhattan without being radical.
  • Creole bitters - Only so-so in a Manhattan. These really are for other drinks like a Sazerac, but we don''t drink those here.
  • Celery bitters - We have not tried these yet, but sound like something you should have in a Bloody Mary
  • Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter bitters - These are variation on the classic aromatic, and make an excellent addition to a Manhattan. This is extra good if the sweet vermouth is a little on the gentle side because these bitters can add a little more punch to the drink than something like the Aromatic bitters.

We usually get asked the best way to use bitters. The first suggestion is to just take off the lid and take a little smell. If the aroma is something that just works with your drink, shake a drop or two in and enjoy. If you are not that adventurous we suggest using google and searching for some drink recipes, or going over to the Bitter Truth website and seeing what they suggest. Don't be afraid to experiment.

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What Makes a Good Whiskey?

We have been sipping bourbon here for years. We do the tough jobs, so that you can sit back and enjoy. While the focus of our dark liquor posts has centered on bourbon, there has been some excursions from that position in the last year or so. Due to these excursions, we are going to post almost anything in this one feed. The old Alphageek's Thoughts posts are still on the tab above, but there probably won't be very many updates because we are going to put them all here for now. We did it to eliminate confusion, but both of our readers said to just use one stream and that they could keep up.

What kind of excursions? Lately, there has been some sampling of whiskey. Yes, we spell it with an e for now, unless the bottle we are reviewing says otherwise. So lately, we tried some rye whiskey, and in general liked it in a Manhattan much better than as a sipping product, and maybe even better than bourbon in a Manhattan.

So, we decided to take a step back and tell you how we will be reviewing in terms of what we are looking for in a whiskey. Let's eliminate some items we are not really looking for. We will not be posting about all the different subtleties of flavor that might or might not be in a whiskey. For instance, old leather, tobacco and dark cherries? Wow, if only the drink had a little more tobacco it would be great? Seems kind of silly when we read other sites and we are not going to talk very much about all of the different flavor elements like that. 

So what are we looking for? We have broken enjoyment down into these elements:

  • Nose This one is easy. As long as it does not smell musty, we will probably like the nose. This is where you will not get comments on shoe leather.
  • Initial "pop" This is that initial pop of flavor one gets when the first little sip goes in. This is driven by the proof, and we like the pop from a high proof whiskey on this site.
  • Body The whiskey should be just a little bit syrupy for our tastes. Otherwise it does not whisk around the tongue with any interest and is more like flavored water.
  • Finish How it goes down. This is where some people yell smooth when the whiskey goes down. We like a smooth, non-burning finish here. What some people call spiciness should add to the pop, not the finish.

We will also let you know how the whiskey works in a Manhattan. We have already covered  how to make a Manhattan, so jump to that article if you have questions. We like other bitters to, and maybe we will post on that in the future. 

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