I really can’t get enough of bitters, from tried and true stalwarts like Angostura, Peychaud’s and Regan’s Orange to newish offerings from The Bitter Truth. Aside from using bitters to enhance my cocktails, I even consume bitters with a bit of club soda before or after meals to aid digestion. So I was pretty excited when a package arrived from Urban Moonshine, a company in Burlington, Vermont whose mission is to “rekindle the relationship between herbal medicine and the modern world” by producing handcrafted, organic bitters and tonics.
Urban Moonshine offers three bitters—Original, Citrus and Maple—which I sampled, as well as three tonics—Immunity, Longevity and Chocolate Love—which I didn’t. Each variety of bitters is available in a 10ml spray bottle, a 2 ounce bottle with pipette and an 8.4 ounce bottle.
I sampled each bitters first in a glass of water and then in a cocktail. In water, the Original tasted similar to an aromatic bitters with complex, earthy, herby flavors, while the citrus was more… bitter than I expected, but still pleasant, with flavors or orange and maybe even some lime. The Maple was sweet and decidedly maple-tasting, as the name suggests.
For cocktails, I used the Citrus bitters in a martini, and used both the Original and Maple bitters in a manhattan and old fashioned. In the martini, the Citrus bitters worked quite well, adding a deep orangey note to the cocktail. In both the manhattan and old fashioned, each constructed with rye whiskey, the Original bitters worked nicely. But it was the Maple that really shined, adding a sweet and balanced note to the spiciness of the rye.
Another cocktail I tried came straight from Urban Moonshine, and was concocted by John Gertsen of Boston’s Drink, one of my favorite cocktail bars. And though I can’t think of many reasons to mix orange juice and maple syrup, it too did not disappoint.
Old Vermont Cocktail Recipe
1 3/4 ounces London dry gin
1/2 ounce maple syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/4 ounce fresh orange juice
2 dashes Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Top with two dashes of Maple Bitters.
Whether their products are used as a digestive aid or to enhance a cocktail, the fine folks at Urban Moonshine are on to something. The availability is still somewhat limited, so if you can’t find Urban Moonshine’s bitters in your area, you can buy online.