Mother Earth Living

Fresh Clips: Bitter Truths from Chicago Mixologists

By Veronica Hinke
August/September 2009
Add to My MSN

Adam Seger, a mixologist at Nacional 27 in Chicgo's River North, fills an eyedropper with Bitters 27.
Veronica Hinke


Content Tools

Related Content

Herbs in Horto: Take a Moonlit Stroll Through the “City in a Garden”

Lurie Garden is a popular tourist attraction in Chicago during the day, but a secret escape at night...

In the News: Angostura Bitters Substitute

Watch Rachel Maddow as she celebrates the return of Angostura bitters with two fabulous recipes and ...

Facebook's Found Photos Page: A Touching Tribute to Tornado Victims

Reconnecting with family photos and important papers may seem like small change in the wake of the t...

Herbal Travels: Chicago Botanic Garden

I wish you could experience the English Walled Garden at the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe, Illi...

Three Chicago mixologists are using herbs to make bitters, potent taste accents for cocktails such as Manhattans, Tom Collins and Pisco Sours.

“Bitters are as important to cocktails as salt and pepper are to food; they somehow bring together disparate flavors,” Toby Maloney says. He ferments wormwood, lavender and licorice root in alcohol for two weeks in a cool, dark room at his nightclub, The Violet Hour. The bar is dotted with eyedropper vials of his finished product. He squirts splashes of bitters into cocktails, adding three drops on top for aroma.

Nacional 27’s Adam Seger ferments horehound, mugwort and Maria Treben Swedish Herb Mixture for his Pisco Sours. He learned by studying shelves at Chicago’s Merz Apothecary. “It reminds me of what one of those little shops in Harry Potter would look like. People thought I was crazy,” Seger says, describing his early experiments. Brown bubbles crept over one batch. Another “smelled like a hamster cage.” Seger added Brazil wood oil, “but then it smelled like a massage parlor.” Lavender helped achieve flavor balance.

“It’s challenging to find some herbs,” says Alex Rose, mixologist at The Bar in the Hotel InterContinental. He grows mint and orders others online. Rose steeps cloves and ginger for at least two weeks in 190-proof Everclear vodka to make Bitters 29, a complement for gin- or vodka-based drinks. For the Gold Coast, an enhancement to his Pisco Sour, he soaks cardamom and coriander in bourbon to create Equinox Bitters.


Veronica Hinke is a freelance food and travel writer.








Post a comment below.

 








Subscribe today and save 58%

First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living!

Welcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $14.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $19.95.