Sous Vide Bitters

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By: Steven Rodia

 

Last year, I discovered the Nomiku immersion circulator while reading a story from Chef Chris Consentino.  The simple-to-use device cooks food sous vide, or under vacuum, in a sealed bag at a controlled temperature.  One of the big benefits is that you can cook meats, vegetables, and even things like cocktail additives without losing any of the moisture associated with traditional cooking methods.  Because this method surrounds the food with a water bath at a constant temperature, you’re able to cook items consistently and evenly throughout.  You are also free to place herbs and flavoring ingredients inside the sealed environment with your food to infuse additional flavors without the fear of those delicate items scorching in a pan.  Nomiku’s device brings what was once a toy that only restaurants could afford into the realm of the home cook.  Shortly after backing their Kickstarter campaign for the Wi-Fi model, I was offered a Nomiku 1 to use to create new cocktail ideas.  You can find more information on the Nomiku here.  To start, I wanted to use the device to create some homemade bitters.  Bitters are to a cocktail what seasoning is to food.  They are not meant to take center stage, but rather play a supporting role in the success of a cocktail.  While anyone can recreate these recipes at home by steeping the ingredients in alcohol, the Nomiku speeds up the process and also yields a very thorough infusion of flavors.  What used to take me several days can now be accomplished in a few hours.  For more reading on the subject, Brad Parsons’ book Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas is an outstanding resource.  You can find it here.  Please enjoy the following bitters recipes and have fun experimenting with your own concoctions.

 

Coffee and Orange Bitters:

  • 1/4 cup fresh, corse ground coffee beans (I used Guatemalan)
  • The peel from one orange, cleaned of any white pith, cut into 2 inch segments
  • 1/2 teaspoon cassia chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon wild cherry bark
  • 1 cup Kentucky bourbon

Place all of the ingredients in a plastic bag and seal using the displacement method (video here) or by using a vacuum sealer.  Add to the water bath with your device set for 50°C (122°F) and cook sous vide for 2 hours.  Remove from the water bath and strain through a coffee filter into a small bottle.  Use the bitters to create new and exciting cocktails including something simple like the variation on the Old Fashioned below.

 

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Cocktail Idea – Wide Awake Old Fashioned:

  • Start by placing a sugar cube or 1/2 teaspoon of granulated sugar in the bottom of your glass
  • Wet the sugar with 3 dashes of your new coffee & orange bitters and teaspoon of club soda
  • Muddle the sugar, bitters, and soda together
  • Add 2 ounces of bourbon and top with ice
  • Express the oil from an orange peel onto the rim of the glass and place the peel into the cocktail

 

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Persimmon, Orange, and Ginger Bitters:

  • 1/2 fresh persimmon, peeled and with seeds removed
  • The peel from one orange, cleaned of any white pith, cut into 2 inch segments
  • 1/8 cup of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon gentian root
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice berries
  • 1 cup of rye whiskey

Place all of the ingredients in a plastic bag and seal using the displacement method or by using a vacuum sealer.  Add to the water bath with your device set for 50°C (122°F) and cook sous vide for 2 hours.  Remove from the water bath and strain through a coffee filter into a small bottle.

 

Cocktail Idea – Ginger and the Skipper:

  • Start by adding 3 to 4 dashes of persimmon & ginger bitters into a old fashioned glass
  • Add 2 ounces of Jefferson’s Ocean Aged Bourbon (or your favorite bourbon)
  • Fill the glass with crushed ice or a large cube and top with ginger beer
  • Stir until evenly mixed and chilled
  • Express the oil from an orange peel onto the rim of the glass and serve

Cheers!

Fork&∓Stave