Malta Knights’ Bitters

by :: [Bitters]

Presumably this is a bitter named after the Knights of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem founded around 1023 as the Knights Hospitaller and eventually just the Knights of Malta. In 1119 the Knights Hospitaller and the Knights Templar were formed, but when the Templars were disbanded in 1312 most of their assets went to the Hospitallers. After being chased around the Mediterranean they would eventually settle on Malta and be hence forth know as the Knights of Malta.

In 1798, Napoleon, who was on his way to Egypt, asked for safe harbour in Malta, and the Grand Master refused. Napoleon sent his forces in and the Grand Master capitulated and Malta was now in the hands of the French and the Knights were dispersed throughout Europe. In 1834 the Knights regrouped in Rome and decided to go back to their roots of hospital work and became known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta

The Order still exists today and has formal diplomatic relations with 104 states and "observer status" at the United Nations. The order has about 13,000 members; 80,000 permanent volunteers; and 20,000 medical personnel including doctors, nurses and paramedics in more than 120 countries.

As for the bitters, it is doubtful that this recipe is anything other than an attempt to duplicate the success of other religious spirits like Chartreuse and Benedictine, but one never knows and it may be possible that a Knight of the Order may have created these bitters to aid in their medical quest.

This is a Stomach Bitter in the same class as Swedish Bitters and Fernet Branca.

Malta Knights’ Bitters Recipe:

Tonka Beans
¼ lb
Sage Leaves
¼ lb
Marjoram Herb
¼ lb
Calamus Root
½ lb
Ginger
½ lb
Elder Flower
½ lb
Buckbean Herb
½ lb
Angelica Root
½ lb
Cassian Cinnamon
1 lb
Anise
1 lb
Zedoary Root
1 lb
Cloves
1¼ lb
Galanga Root
1¼ lb
Gentian Root
1¼ lb

Instructions

Combine the ingredients in a mortar and grind to a coarse powder and then pack in a percolator, or other suitable maceration vessel. Pass the alcohol through the percolator over a period of 72 hours to create the Malta Knights' Bitters essence. If macerating, allow the mixture to macerate for 3 days with occasional agitation, then filter and reserve the liquid.

To make the Italian Malta Knights' Bitters from the above essence, take 1 oz of essence and combine it with 1700 ml of 35% alcohol and 300 ml of 60% simple syrup.

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