Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

... And on to Bitters

Speaker of bitter, as in beer-type beverage, we made a number of the similar-sounding but unrelated bitters two years ago and also last year ... then fell out of the habit. Last night I shook the last couple drops of a bitters into a drink. This bitters' identifying number had come off: but I believe it was Liqueur/Bitters No. 6. (For some reason we started numbering our liqueurs and bitters in the same list; so we have kept up the practice.) This bitters' recipe, from September, 2008, is simple. From our notebook: "Wormwood (Vodka) jam jar. Two pinches wormwood, 1/4 tsp. maple sugar. Phillips vodka, not quite to fill." How big was the jam jar? I failed to note. A half-pint?

We have plenty of Liqueur/Bitters No. 7 left -- "Violet and Sweet Woodruff (1 lb. jar) -- which Martha made last May. We have plenty, in part, because she finds it too overpowering in drinks unless added in the smallest amounts. Sweet woodruff, which grows in our front yard, has a powerful flavor. I myself like this bitters, in the smallest amounts, in a mug of hot water.

Feeling the bitters pinch (we have all kinds of liqueurs, apparently) I started a new one last night, in a small honey jar -- the capacity of which I just measured: it seems to hold 5/8 pint. This is Juniper-Elderberry Bitters. The recipe: 1 tsp. maple syrup, about 1/5 oz. dried juniper berries, 1 sprig of quite dried-up elderberries, five leaves of dried sweetfern, 1 pinch dried wormwood -- and then Smirnoff to fill the jar. Thank you, John Hilden, for the Smirnoff.

The juniper berries have a literary background: for I picked them when we were visiting a delightful little park well to the north of here which celebrates the life of the author of Caddie Woodlawn. Maybe I will go back and change the bitters' name ...

Cheers ...

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