Fellow Bitters Makers, Let’s Talk Base Alcohol

National Martini Day 2012

Friday is here and I think I have fully recovered from National Martini Day 2012.   Mark your calendars for June 19th and don’t worry about the long wait; National Martini Day can be kept alive in spirit all year.  Every time a properly stirred martini is slurped down we celebrate and the magic of M Day is alive once more. 

The business of the day. 

I am back in bitters production mode and just started a new batch of my soon-to-be-famous BDW Passion Fruit Bitters.  To do that, I had to procure some base alcohol.  For my first batches I was lucky to find a bunch of Absout 100 on closeout for about $15 a litre.  Sadly this deal is gone because I bought them all.  I am reluctant to pay $30 or more per litre.  Sure, call me cheap if you want, but I am going through lots of litres with my experiments and need to keep costs down.  The question is what do any of you other bitters makers use?  I can buy a 750ml of  Wild Turkey Bourbon 101 for about $17 which is good for some more aromatic bitters, but I just refuse to pay more for vodka than I pay for a nice bourbon.  Recently I found a vodka brand called UV 103 for about 12 bucks a 750ml.  I did a side by side taste test with Absolut 100 and found that I think I like the UV 103 a little better and it is cheap.  Cheaper than Smirnoff 100 as well.  Over-proof booze is just not that prevalent on the shelves.  I have to imagine that commercial bitters producers either distill their own base or they have a way of buying in bulk.  Anyone that has any input on this please let me know.

7 thoughts on “Fellow Bitters Makers, Let’s Talk Base Alcohol

  1. Artie Reply

    I use as high proof as possible, which is usually Everclear or Devil’s Spring. Only difference is that you have to dilute, since I try to keep my abv at 40-50%. Passion fruit sounds like a great project. Do you combine flavors or do single-ingredient batches?

    • boydrinksworld Reply

      Thanks for commenting. I thought about using Everclear, what do you dilute with? As for the passion fruit and other bitters I use a hybrid method, flavor agents all in one pot and then after the flavor is right I add the aromatics and bittering agents. It is like a multi-stage method. This way I can control the elements that could infuse too fast and be overpowering.

  2. Joseph Tkach Reply

    Galen’s vodka 150 costs 20$/bottle where I live. It’s like budget everclear. When you dilute the bitters, dilute them with a water extraction of the same flavor. So if you are making bitters using gentian root, first make the gentian tincture in your high-proof spirit, then make gentian “tea” by simmering gentian in water for a while. Once the “tea” is read, dilute the tincture with the tea down to ~100 proof.

    • boydrinksworld Reply

      Thanks! This advice jives pretty closely with my research. I was reluctant to water down my bitters at first, but apparently water can really help access more flavors. Also it makes sense that dilution with water can bring down the alcohol content and stretch your base.

  3. Pingback:Quick Tip #1 – Club Soda and Bitters – 2012 Update « boydrinksworld

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