Boker’s Bitters was founded by John G. Boker in 1928. Boker’s was at the height of its popularity in the 19th Century’s Golden Age of cocktails, a time when experts such as Jerry Thomas & Harry Johnson were making cocktail history.In fact many cocktail books of the era specifically called for “Boker’s Bitters (Genuine Only)” so it must have been hailed a very special product. Unfortunately Boker’s, like many other Bitters companies, fell fowl of the Volstead Act and American Prohibition. The Boker’s company was closed by the end of the 1920s.
#1 East India Cocktail
[1 tsp Curacao, 1 tsp Pineapple Syrup, 3 Dashes of Boker’s Bitters, 2 Dashes Maraschino, 1 Wineglass of Brandy STIR]
This recipe came top out of a four-way tasting of different East India recipes, the comparisons can be found here
, this drink is sweet and spicy with a complex finish, courtesy of the Boker’s. Crisp and rather wonderful.
[30ml Dry Gin, 15ml Sweet Vermouth 2D Boker’s Bitters: STIR – Lemon Twist]
Similar to the Sweet Martini but he Boker’s adds an extra fragrant bitter twang. This has a good balance of sweetness and is great for raising the appetite.
[30ml Brandy, 10ml Orgeat Syrup, 2 Dashes Boker’s Bitters: STIR]
Delicious, the orgeat sweetens up the brandy, Boker’s adds a level of complexity. Really excellent, top notch.
#4 Moonshine Cocktail
[35ml Dry Gin, 10ml Dry Vermouth, 5ml Marashino, 2 Dashes Boker’s Bitters: STIR]
Martini-like with added sweetness from the Marashino; the Boker’s Bitter bring-out and compliment the herbal notes of the vermouth. Overall not a bad drink but not that great either, need a little something to make it stand out.
[20ml Dry Gin, 20ml Dry vermouth, 20ml Kirsch, 1/4 Tsp Sugar, 2 Dashes Boker’s Bitters,1 Dash Pastis: STIR]
Quite a dry and complex cocktail, unlike many other cocktails around. All the flavours *Dry Gin, Dry Vermouth, Dry Kirsch) tie together well, this is an excellent drink.
#6 Submarine Cocktail
[30ml Dry Gin, 10ml Dry vermouth, 10ml Dubonet, 2 Dashes Boker’s Bitters: STIR]
Similar to the Moonshine Cocktail in many ways but, for me, the Dubonet dominates and any subtleties of flavour from the dry vermouth and the Boker’s Bitters are lost.
#7 Improved Cocktail
[50ml Brandy, 2 dashes Boker’s Bitters, 3 dashes Sugar Syrup, 2 dashes Maraschino, 1 dash Absinthe: STIR]
Although it’s possible to use brandy, whisk(E)y or genever I use Mashale, South African Brandy. I think this is a pretty good drink with a colonial feel, I used Butterfly Absinthe which comes through very subtly. The complex herbal elements of the bitters balance out the sweetness of the sugar and the maraschino, which makes the drink well-balanced.
I realised how much difference Boker’s Bitters can make last year and it was great to try it out in a few more drinks. It’s now become one of the staple four in my cabinet (Angostura, Orange & Peychauds being the others) and given the fact that it was so popular in day gone by, it’s great that it has been bought back from the dead.
*D = dashes