And I have a confession to make: Due to poor planning and MxMo's tendency to sneak up on me, I'm currently several hundred miles away from my home computer, which of course contains recipes and further details of the ingredients in question for this month's submission. I hope to update this entry and add some specificity (and some pictures.)
A post of Chuck's from a few months back got me thinking about fig-infused bourbon and how good that'd be. So I got some fresh Mission figs and some dried ones, cut them up, and stated infusing a bottle of Bulleit. But I had lots of figs, and suddenly the idea of fig bitters came to mind. After doing a bit of research (hat tip especially to Jamie Boudreau's theory of making separate bittering and flavoring agents, and combining them to taste), and using Chuck's Taggart Bitters No. 3 as a starting point for my shopping list, I headed down to my local weird-spice supply store. I got gentian, mace blades, allspice berries, wormwood bark, cloves, cardamom, and nutmeg, toasted them all briefly in a skillet, crushed them with a mortar and pestle, and then steeped them for ten days or so in some 140-proof poteen that a generous friend brought me from Europe. I also infused a bunch more of the fresh and dried figs in some Rittenhouse Bottled in Bond 100-proof rye, also for about ten days.
When I tasted the bitter blend, it was -- no joke -- the bitterest thing I've ever tasted. One drop was enough to make my salivary glands kick into overdrive and snap my head back with the sheer bitterness of it all. The fig-infused rye was mellow and sweet, and the most difficult thing there was successfully filtering out all the tiny fig seeds. I blended several tablespoons of the bitter blend with the fig-infused rye, and I was set. All that was left was to heat some more figs in some water, reduce that water down to concentrate the flavor some more, and add that water to the bitters to lower the alcohol level a bit.
I think the fig bitters came out fairly well, although the flavor isn't quite as robust as I'd hoped it'd be. There's an initial burst of figgy sweetness up front, and then the spicy bitterness hits your palate.
However, a couple good-sized dashes are a nice addition to a cocktail, and I especially like the homemade fig bitters in a Manhattan. Lately I've been making them like this:
- 1 oz. rye whiskey
- 1 oz. fig-infused bourbon
- 1 oz. sweet vermouth (I like Vya)
- several healthy dashes fig bitters.
(Want to try a sample of the fig bitters? Drop me a line.)