In searching for the first bitters for my collection I quickly discovered that craft bitters are a booming industry. There are so many different brands and flavors to choose from that it can become quite daunting. That is why it is very convenient that I’m somewhat shallow and most definitely judge a bitters on how it looks. When I remembered that it was quite obvious that I was going to choose Bittermens Burlesque and Hellfire Bitters because I wanted them to go On The Shelf.
With the recent wave of boutique bitters Bittermens could be described as a bit of an old hand as they formed in 2007. Beginning with only one offering, the Xocolatl Mole Bitters, the company has expanded considerably offering a wide range of bitters and, most recently, formulating some of their very own spirits. It is quite remarkable what the company has been able to achieve in so little time. Reading the site and seeing the extensive list of recipes they have devised that use their bitters you can understand why, they know their drinking.
The Burlesque bitters is a combination of hibiscus, açai berry and long pepper. According to the site the flavor is sweet, spicy and a bit of a tart and suggested as a good accompaniment to Italian amari, Mexican tequila, British gin and Caribbean rum. I love the fact that the burlesque theme plays throughout the label and down to the tasting notes. At first the bottle looks quite plain, a simple black and white front but when you turn it there is a cheeky burlesque from the shoulders down. Corset, stockings, feathers, heels, what more could you want really? The splash of dark red across the girl is a nice touch, it really draws the eye.
The Bittermens website lists a ‘Rum Row’ Old Fashioned that uses the Burlesque bitters and sounds particularly tasty, with its mix of two different rums and combination of the Burlesque bitters with Angostura Orange.
The Hellfire Habanero is actually what is known as a shrub. I’d never come across the term before discovering the Hellfire so I’ll let the good people at Bittermens explain what it is:
“Shrubs are classically refreshing fruit and vinegar-based syrups that were sweetened and diluted to make a beverage since revolutionary times.”
The guys at Bittermens then decided what would happen if you made a shrub with hot peppers and there you have the Hellfire Habanero. The flavor is apparently quite intense, its recommended that you only need drops instead of ounces due to the heat. Heat and I normally don’t get along so I’m really curious to see how hot the Hellfire is and whether it is something I’m going to be a fan of. The drink to try it out with looks like the 700 Songs Gimlet that combines gin, lime juice, sugar syrup and cinnamon syrup with the Hellfire. Sounds like a flavor hit alright.
I basically decided to get the Hellfire because the girl reminded me of the Redheads Matches girl. I’ve always thought that was a great bit of branding and it works equally well with the Hellfire Habanero. Again the sparing using of color also works well, this time focusing on the girls hair and cheeks. I really appreciate the fact that Bittermens went to the effort to craft different labels for each of their bottles which also have some connection to the brand.