Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sauce Spotlight: Peychaud’s Bitters

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For today's Saturday Sauce Spotlight, we are going to discuss a mandatory staple in every New Orleanian's Bar: Peychaud’s Bitters. Peychaud’s Bitters is the cocktail bitter that may very well have started what we know as cocktails today.
These bitters were originally considered a tonic because of Antoine Amedie Peychaud Senior, an apothecary, gained fame in New Orleans not for the drugs he dispensed, but for the compounding of a liquid tonic called bitters. Like many early medicines, Peychaud’s was mixed with brandy as a stomach tonics and perhaps similar to any medicine, it treats symptoms just as much as anything mainly because it gave an added zest to the potions of cognac brandy he served in his pharmacy. Although Antoine Amedie Peychaud Senior invented it Peychaud Junior made it famous and the necessary ingredient for the Sazerac Coffeehouse’s signature cocktail: the Sazerac.
Now Peychauds Aromatic Cocktail Bitters looks bright cherry red in its small 5 or 10 fl oz bottles and transfers that color to any cocktail it's mixed in. When you smell it you should notice the aroma of Anise, black licorice, spices and cherry all blended together. That coupled with its flavor of slight Bitterness with an ansie flavour and a subtle sweetness. It is gentian-based bitters, with a subtly different and sweeter taste than the more popular Angostura brand. gentians are flowers that according to according myth, Gentian is a derivitive of the name of King Gentius (180-168 BC), the King of Illyria, said to have discovered the flowers healing properties. Some species are of medicinal use and their roots were harvested for the manufacture of tonic liquor like Suze or similar liquors like Peychaud's Bitters.
Obviously as a New Orleanian, Peychaud's Bitters are best know for its use in the Sazerac, but can be used in many other cocktails that use bitters. It can also be used in cocktails like a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned. Now remember, when using Peychaud's bitters in cocktails it is important to be cautious as a little too much can ruin the cocktail. Generally, bitters also have a high alcohol content and should never be used in non-alcoholic drinks. The alcohol content of Peychaud's is 35% alcohol by volume.
So go out and get a Sazerac with only Peychaud's Bitters or try another cocktail with Peychaud's and tell us what you think or what drink you tried!

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