OP: ELDo BITTERS (aka Schmidtters)


On a recent trip to Chicago, I was lucky enough to check out an awesome cocktail lounge: The Violet Hour. If you happen to be in Chi-Town, I highly suggest you mozy up to the bar and let the good people behind the stick work their magic.

While there, I was inspired. Ya see, they feature more than 30 housemade varieties of cocktail bitters.

"Why bitters?" I asked.

Mike Ryan, one of their esteemed staff members replied, "It's the salt & pepper of cocktails."

Well put, sir!

That being said, I had to create our own little batch at ELDo. I mean what's a cocktail bar without housemade bitters, right? (read as: another way for Anthony to fool around and experiment on weird shit) :)

So, with the guidance of our new friends from the Violet Hour, and several OUTSTANDING bloggers (namely, this guy, this guy, and this guy... not to mention this awesome convo on eGullet) I set out on my maiden "bitters making" voyage. The experiment proceeded as follows...


Gentian 2.5 g
Calamus 1/2 oz
Star anise (4)
Cinnamon (1 stick)
Whole Clove (10)
Ginger (dried) 1/2 oz
Cardamom 1/2 oz
Coriander 1/4 oz
Juniper (whole) 1/4 oz

The above ingredients were set to rest in 750ml of base spirit for two weeks. We tested two base spirits: Rittenhouse Rye (bottled in bond - 100 prf) as well as Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum. The high proof spirits help extract the flavor from the ingredients. They also add their own unique flavor (hence the two-spirit test). We shook the jars once daily to agitate the mix and help the maceration.


After a week the color of the rum mix really started to darken:


After two weeks, we filtered the stuff through a britta and added simple syrup (1:1, sugar:water - didn't want to over sweeten the deal) to bring down the proof and round off the flavors. When I made the simple syrup I first boiled the leftover bits and twigs from the maceration. Then, I filtered and added equal parts sugar.

The Result?



I'm very excited to announce, 'they're Not that bad!!!' I was expecting something much worse. Granted, I had a couple of the best teachers a guy could get.

Now, they aren't exactly the greatest either... the star anise is too dominant. The clove is somewhat lost. And a bit more cinnamon might not hurt. I think the whiskey is better than the rum, but I'm the minority... most dig the rum. In the next batch I'm planning to add a couple more herbs/spices that compliment each other while adding some complexity. I'm also planning a little orange bitters experiment, too.

How might you change the recipe?

And a cocktail to complete the test?

Schmidtters and Rye OLD FASHIONED - has a nice ring to it, huh

2 barspoons simple syrup (1:1... preferably the leftover syrup from the batch)
4 dashes Schmidtters (Rye base)
2 oz Rye Whiskey

Add ingredients and Ice to a double old-fashioned glass. Stir. Taste. Garnish with Lemon zest. Enjoy.


Happy drinking and Happy Holidays, y'all!

- Anthony Schmidt

PS: if you're trying this recipe at home, some of the ingredients can be tough to find. Here in SD, if you're impatient (like me) there's a great little herb/spice shop called In Harmony. Another shop, Tenzin Momo, will have everything you could ever need at screamin' deals, but they're in Seattle. Either way, you'll be set //// Have Fun and let me know how your experiment goes!
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