Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet X – Abbott’s Bitters

The Old Abbotts Bitter - Thanks to CocktailDB for Picture.

There has been a bit of break in episodes from Raiders of the Lost Cocktail Cabinet so, to make up for this, this weekend we have a double-feature on long-lost bitters.Part one focuses on another ingredient whose demise is lamented in ‘Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails’, Abbott’s Bitters. These were produced by C.W. Abbott of Baltimore until the 1950s, which suggests that they survived Prohibition (no mean feat). The Cocktail Database describes them as one of three most important aromatic bitters brands of the twentieth century, alongside Angostura Company and Peychauds.Recreation of these bitters today, even with a recipe, is a little tricky as Tonka Bean was a key ingredient, which is now banned in food and drink in the USA. Even in countries where it can be consumed, it is heavily regulated.Through the grapevine, I heard about a project that Bob’s Bitters were working on and I was very pleased when Bob from Bob’s Bitters was kind enough to send me a sample of his brand new Abbott’s Bitters. For the story of how the bitters were resurrected, click here.

The Taste
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#1 Manhattan,
The bitters adds an extra level off flavour, with additional hints of almond, amaretti and a touch of cinnamon, as well as other fruit and spices, somewhat reminiscent of simmnel or fruit cake. It matches well with the Martini Rosso and the Wild Turkey Rye – quite excellent.
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#2 Martinez
There’s quite an autumnal or wintry feel from the sweet spices in this cocktail. It’s a little reminiscent of gingerbread or mincemeat, but not in a sweet way. The Sloane’s Gin worked well and both Mrs. B and I really liked this, thinking it quite Christmas-y.

#3 Swan Cocktail

Unusual flavours, quite dry and a touch of anise. Bitter add an extra complexity and the vanilla note went well with the pastis. Bracing and rousing for the appetite.

#4 Old Fashioned
Absolutely lovely. A hint of smokiness comes through. It’s a little lighter and creamier than the same drink made using Angostura. A caution would be to not put too much sugar in, but, really, this drink is just great.

#5 Martini
A pale yellow colour, and clean and crisp; the middle has a touch of smokiness and then there’s some cloves and Christmas spice on the finish. The bitters works well with Sloane’s Gin, making a drink with a long finish.

#6) Pink Gin
More fragrant than most Pink Gins, but the cinnamon/sweet spice notes that you get when using angostura is still present, so there is still an element of familiarity. There’s a huge amount of flavour and it it works very nicely with the Sloane’s Dry gin.

In Conclusion

In a similar way to Boker’s, I am very glad that Abbott’s Bitters has been resurrected; to my mind it is a sweeter, lighter and more confectionery type of bitters and, as such, has its own niche to carve out. I see some really great potential uses in Autumnal or Winter cocktails.

Our favourite drinks were; Martinez, Manhattan and Old Fashioned.