Bogart’s Bitters is something like the Holy Grail of its category—and the folks behind The Bitter Truth have resurrected it.
Bogart’s entered legend by way of inclusion in Jerry Thomas’s The Bartender’s Guide: How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant’s Companion, which was published in 1862 and likely the first book of cocktail recipes. Compounding the matter is the theory that “Bogart’s” was actually a misspelling of “Boker’s.” Either way, the bitters made their mark, and we’re still talking about them today.
No bottle from the Jerry Thomas-era has lived to see modernity, but The Bitter Truth did get its hands on a bottle from circa 1900. After 10 years of tinkering, The Bitter Truth has released their revived version, packaged in a handsome “lady leg” bottle that also pays tribute to the original.
Bogart’s Bitters has a dark, woodsy aroma with plenty of anise, black licorice, cardamom, and clove. Tasting it on its own reveals a spiced, earthy flavor with pine, clove, and bitter orange. I couldn’t help but think of a forest from a Brothers Grimm story: dark and mysterious, but somehow enticing at the same time.
I added two dashes of the bitters to an Old-Fashioned with a quarter ounce of simple syrup and two ounces of Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon. Just two dashes put Bogart’s in the front seat: the powerful darkness of anise was apparent from the first sip, with clove, cardamom, chocolate, and coffee moving into the center. Bitter orange peel gave it a satisfying and complex finish.
If there could be any complaint lodged against Bogart’s Bitters, it would be the way it outshines the spirit as the central flavor component of the drink (of course, you can always dial back your dashes). But the dark, spiced flavors of Bogart’s are alluring enough that I really don’t mind.
Bogart’s Bitters costs $34.99 and comes in a 375mL bottle.