I bought some new tins and I am still trying to decide if I really like them or not, so I’ve got the feeling we are in for some shaken drinks over the next few days. Which is lucky, because I prefer to shaking to stirring or building or, heaven forbid, blending. There is just something about it. The sound of those tins crashing together as the ice sloshes back and forth mixing up the flavors and textures we all love. The feel of the ice forming on the outside. The heft of them in your hands and the new ones have definitely got heft. So in the spirit of getting to play with new toys, won’t you join me now as we make the bitter, but lovely, Sawyer.
This one has a whole lot of bitters going on, in the same vein as my beloved Trinidad Sour, but with more variety. I first discovered it in Brad Parson’s awesome book “Bitters”, which was my first real deep dive into learning some cocktail tradecraft. It was actually created by Don Lee at New York’s Momofuku Ssäm Bar for WD-50 chef Wylie Dufresne. It’s a bitters forward riff on a classic gin gimlet that is as tasty as it is easy to make.
Grab your tins, you might opt for a new set from C& D Tools, like I did and pop in 2 ounces of gin, I chose Corsair American; 1/2 an ounce of fresh squeezed lime juice, 1/2 an ounce of simple syrup and then get ready to shake, shake, shake your bitters. Kick things off with 14 stabs of Angostura, followed by 7 stabs each of Peychaud’s and Regan’s Orange Bitters. Add ice and give it a good shake to the beat of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song”. When those heavy tins begin to form a frost on the outside and get cold in your hands, pry them apart and double strain into something interesting like this short cocktail glass I found at Goodwill. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel and serve.
That’s properly tasty. The gin is leading the band taking those high notes, but that bitters power trio is definitely bringing the soul to this one. There is a lot going on here. Lots of herbal notes from the gin and the bitters playing together, a solid brightness from the citrus with just enough sweet to make it all go down smooth. I can appreciate why this one doesn’t make it to a lot of menus and I can see why that is a shame. Rock solid beverage and one to pull out when you want to wow folks by throwing way too much of the big three bitters into a shaker.
I love these bitters heavy cocktails and how they play against type, inviting you to make assumptions and then going in a totally different direction. Oscar Wilde famously, or was it infamously, said, “The secret of life is to appreciate the pleasure of being terribly, terribly deceived.” and that is what happens in these drinks. You expect something unpleasantly strong and then you end up with a complex, interesting drink that is very easy on the palate. I like that. Honestly, I love being fooled when no one gets hurt and how better to experience that moment of relieved understanding than while sipping a cocktail with friends. Life is gonna get tricksy sometimes, and a lot of those deceptions are gonna hurt, so enjoy the ones you can and learn from the ones you can’t. That may not be the secret of life, but it is definitely a pro-tip to getting to the next level without too much damage. Stay safe, stay hydrated and stay sane, my friends.