Hess House Bitters is the results of the first attempt of Robert Hess attempt to re-create the recipe for “Abbott’s Bitters”, an excellent cocktail bitters which unfortunately hasn’t been made for perhaps over 50 years. Robert, fortunately, has several bottles of original Abbott’s stashed away, and so had a starting point from which to begin.
This particular recipe doesn’t quite achieve the results I was wanting, but I feel that it did result in a very fine bitters none-the-less, and so am providing the recipe for it here.
Hess House Bitters Recipe:
- Ginger Root
- 1 tbls
- Cardamom Seeds
- 1½ tbls
- 2 tbls
- 1 tbls
- Rye Whisky
- 480 ml
- 750 ml
- 1 cup
1. Place all ingredients, except for the sugar and water, into a large mason jar and seal. Store for 2 weeks, shaking the jar once a day.
2. Strain the liquids/solids mixture through cheesecloth. Squeeze hard to extract as much juice into the reserved liquid as possible.
3. Place the dry ingredients into a saucepan and add the water. Bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.
4. Allow to cool completely, then pour the water and solid mixture into another mason jar. Store for 1 week, shaking the jar once a day.
5. Strain the water mixture through cheesecloth. Discard the solid ingredients, and add the water to the previously reserved alcohol.
6. Put the sugar into a small non-stick skillet and stirring constantly over a medium-high heat, allow the sugar to melt and then turn to a rich brown color. Quickly remove from heat and allow the melted sugar to cool for a couple of minutes.
7. With the sugar still slightly warm, pour it into the water and alcohol mixture. It will probably crystallize at this point, but with continued stirring, it will eventually dissolve.
8. Allow this mixture to rest for a couple of days, then skim off anything that rises to the surface, and gently pour (or siphon) the clear liquid from the top into another container, trying to avoid as much of the sediment on the bottom as possible.
9. Measure the amount of liquid you now have, and add half that same amount of water.
House Bitters are now ready to bottle and use. This bitters can be used in virtually any recipe which you might have otherwise have used Angostura bitters (even though the flavors are significantly different). It works mighty fine in a Manhattan.
Writer, author of Fix the Pumps, chemist, beekeper and general do-er-of-things, Darcy can generally be found looking for new and interesting things to do, usually over a cocktail. Currently working on more soda fountain history.