|A bitters man|
It used to be that Angostura was the only bitters a bartender needed. Nowadays, it seems like the number of mysterious little brown vials on the bar just keeps multiplying. Brad Thomas Parsons, author of, Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, With Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas, out next week, explains why.
Why did you decide to write a book about bitters?
I was living in Seattle, which has a stellar cocktail community, and wrote a short piece on housemade biters for Seattle Met magazine. I completely over-researched the article and interviewed way too many bartenders for a 450-word story. I just couldn't shake the topic. I started trying and buying as many commercial and craft bitters I could find and experimenting with making my own concoctions. Cocktails and spirits are subjects that lend themselves to much obsessing over, and bitters is such an esoteric, yet essential, subject and it kicked me into full-on geek mode.
How did bitters become such a big deal?
I see it as a natural result of the classic and craft cocktail movements. The call for the use of quality ingredients, like fresh juices and homemade syrups, and reintroduction of long-lost classics -- some of which called for hard-to-find or unfamiliar ingredients -- coupled with the Internet giving people easy access to chase down out-of-print bar guides sparked spirited discussions and fostered a DIY attitude. For years, Angostura and, if you lived in New Orleans, Peychaud's, were the only major commercial bitters readily available. Then, Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6 came onto market, which allowed people to make vintage drinks that called for orange bitters.More »