Best Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas
Featured Recipes from Bitters
The Horse's Neck
Called "the great what-is-it of the Highball tribe" by David A. Embury in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the Horse's Neck started as a nonalcoholic drink in the 1890s, but the addition of whiskey, bourbon, rye, brandy, scotch, or even gin brought a spirited kick to this refreshing highball. The drink, per Embury, "degenerated" into a nonalcoholic beverage once again during Prohibition. Bourbon and ginger ale is one of my favorite marriages of spirit and mixer, so that is recommended here.
The garnish is achieved by positioning one continuous spiral of zest from a whole lemon so that it is flapping over the glass's edge, invoking the silhouette of a horse's mane. Personally, the lemon corkscrew puts me in the mind of a pig's tail, but I suppose the Pig's Tail isn't as elegant a name as the Horse's Neck.
Makes 1 drink1 lemon 2 ounces bourbon 3 dashes Angostura bitters Ginger ale
Carefully peel the zest from the lemon in one continuous spiral with a channel knife. Coil the zest around a barspoon or chopstick to encourage a bouncy spiral.
Place the lemon zest in the bottom of a chilled highball glass, hanging the end of the coiled garnish over the side of the glass. Fill the glass with ice.
Add the bourbon and bitters and top off with ginger ale.
The Autumn Sweater
We could slip away
Wouldn't that be better?
The bittersweet lyrics of "Autumn Sweater," from Yo La Tengo's 1997 album, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, serve as the source material for this melancholy change-of-season shoegazer. Serve it over a large block of ice, or over an ice sphere--even better to evoke a fat harvest moon hanging in the nighttime sky.
Made in Sicily since 1868, Averna is a syrupy, bitter herbal liqueur. It isn't overpowering, though, and is a great gateway amaro if you're interested in exploring potable bitters. Amaro Nonino is another mild Italian digestif whose caramel color and warm, spicy burnt orange notes round out the full fall flavors here. Wrap yourself in an Autumn Sweater and embrace what the season has in store for you.
Makes 1 drink1 ounce rye 1/2 ounce Averna 1/2 ounce Amaro Nonino 1/2 ounce maple syrup 1 dash Urban Moonshine maple bitters 1 dash orange bitters Garnish: thick clove-studded strip of orange zest
Combine all the ingredients except the garnish in a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until chilled. Add a large sphere of ice to a chilled double old-fashioned and strain the drink into the glass.
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