Cocktail Class: Scrappy’s Bitters

Scrappy’s Bitters is a Seattle-based company with an interesting lineup of bitters that range from classic aromatic bitters to celery, cardamom, grapefruit, and more. The bitters are made in small batches that are numbered (the bottle of orange bitters I received was batch number 530), and there’s even a different recipe on each expression if you aren’t sure what to do with it.

Scrappy’s has been around for ten years. Andrew Bohrer led us in a discussion about the Scrappy’s philosophy and then he led us in a cocktail class.

First things first – when a cocktail calls for a dash of bitters, there are different interpretations of that.

What is a dash? According to Bohrer, a dash is not a drop or a dribble, but rather a deliberate motion or movement meant to generate a distinct splash. That little plastic thing in the bitters bottle is called a dash reducer (who knew?!). There are different dash reducers in different brands, but for Scrappy’s there 30 dashes to an ounce with their dash reducer. How you use bitters and how you measure your dashes definitely impacts your end cocktail.

We started with a set of eight different unlabeled Scrappy’s Bitters and a mix of whiskey and simple syrup. Once we put some ice and the whiskey mixture in a glass we were invited to pick a few different bitters and put in there. The idea is that we don’t want to limit ourselves when it comes to the flavors that can go into an Old Fashioned.

According to Bohrer:

  • Six dashes of aromatic bitters creates a deep, warm, and rich spice
  • Six dashes of cardamom bitters will erase all other flavors

Scrappy’s aromatic bitters uses over 40 different botanicals including roots, barks, fruits, seeds, arils, leaves, pods, peels, rinds, beans, nuts, petals. Some ingredients are from West Africa, some are from Indonesia, some are from India, and some are from Southern Mexico. Some of the botanicals are so old food archaeologists don’t quite know where they originated, says Bohrer.

Fortunately, there was one Scrappy’s product missing from our blind kits: Firewater. The Firewater contains no aromatics but is very spicy, which could be great for a variation on many different tequila-based cocktails but which I would be skeptical of trying in a whiskey cocktail.

I’m also really excited to try these Sprezza carbonated vermouths. So many possibilities!

Bitters is your spice cabinet for your cocktail bar. Aromatic bitters are pretty standard for whiskey cocktails, but according to Bohrer, a classic Martini calls for orange bitters. Different bitters complement different cocktails, and Bohrer says that exotic cocktails calls for a little bit of everything. It pays to research different bitters depending on what kind of cocktail you are trying to make or what kind of profile you are going for.

What’s more, every bartender has their “signature dash” which is both style and flavor that puts their signature on a given cocktail.

Finding your signature cocktail style takes a lot of experimentation, but it’s a fun type of work. I recommend keeping a notebook of the different mixtures you come up with and what worked about them and what could change about them. And, most importantly, keep an open mind.

Says Bohrer, “coconut LaCroix with Scrappy’s Lime and Cardamom or a Diet Coke with Orleans have known to be bangers.”

According to the Scrappy’s folks, there’s nothing that says you can’t add a bunch of different bitters flavors to come up with something different. Why not put a dash of chocolate bitters with a dash of lemon bitters or add some celery bitters to something to make it more savory?

The Scrappy’s Bitters Instagram page features recipes from guest bartenders to help you try new recipes in search of your own signature style.

I love trying new flavors of bitters, and this lineup has my creative wheels turning. Am I going to be getting an atomizer for bitters soon? It’s looking likely. I can’t wait to get into the kitchen and create something truly unique.

Scrappy’s Bitters are available on Amazon, many liquor stores, and soon there will be a store locator on the Scrappy’s website.

Photos Courtesy of Maggie Kimberl

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