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Love & Bitters: Ramazzotti Amaro

Love & Bitters: Ramazzotti Amaro
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  • Post #31 - May 17th, 2006, 12:49 pm
    Post #31 - May 17th, 2006, 12:49 pm Post #31 - May 17th, 2006, 12:49 pm
    Italians very often use green walnuts to make homemade amaro. I like a gentian, which I believe is a thistle plant, taste, but have no idea how you could obtain it. Dried citrus peels make it into these infusions often.
    While vanilla beans in Barbancourt (my wife's favorite rum) sounds pretty good, I'm not sure I'd adulterate any more such a fine sipping rum, even though we use it in ti (or vieux) punch.
    I have flavored vodka often, but usually with a single herb, nothing as complex as vermouth or amaro. I have also tried flavored bourbon with mint, basil, and tansy, but always using ordinary stuff, certainly no Basil Haydens or Woolford Reserve;just a little simple syrup, a lot of ice-almost instant julep.
    Why not start with a less expensive alcohol, or even a wine that you could fortify? Bobak's sells a "Tradycyjny Polski-Spiritus Rektyfikowany" that is a grain alcohol of 190 proof. Dave Hammond may be interested in it as they have recipes (albeit in Polish) for not only preserved cherries, but also plums and blackberries.
  • Post #32 - May 17th, 2006, 1:04 pm
    Post #32 - May 17th, 2006, 1:04 pm Post #32 - May 17th, 2006, 1:04 pm
    Hey, if I ruin a good bottle of rum or bourbon, I'll have only myself to blame. I agree with your point, generally, though. Why gild the lilly when you are starting with something as perfect as Barbancourt or (to my tastes) Van Winkle or Blanton's. But this was a case of really spectacular vanilla beans.
  • Post #33 - May 17th, 2006, 2:12 pm
    Post #33 - May 17th, 2006, 2:12 pm Post #33 - May 17th, 2006, 2:12 pm
    If Barbancourt is to your taste, your might like to try some of the "rhum agricole" from Martinique and Guadaloupe. While my wife shares your preference for Haitian Barbancourt, my favorites are the rums of St. James, my mother's preference is Neisson. I'm very happy that Binny's is now carrying all of these. Another that you might like is Demerara (sp?) from Guyana, currently on sale at the Naperville Binny's for $15.
  • Post #34 - May 17th, 2006, 2:31 pm
    Post #34 - May 17th, 2006, 2:31 pm Post #34 - May 17th, 2006, 2:31 pm
    I had the opportunity to chat with Tom and Patty Erd, owners of the spice house, a couple years ago at a party. I recall something along these lines: When Achatz was still at Trio he'd order 20 pounds of vanilla beans at a time, all of a specific length. When they arrived, he'd send half of them back for not meeting his needs. Eventually Tom and Patty passed on the Achatz that they couldn't keep so much money in vanilla bean inventory just for him, and referred him up to their supplier.

    So there's a reason those beans are so spectacular - the man is obsessed.

    I also recall Patty also being a little shocked that he was using them as skewers.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #35 - May 17th, 2006, 11:11 pm
    Post #35 - May 17th, 2006, 11:11 pm Post #35 - May 17th, 2006, 11:11 pm
    MLS wrote:Why not start with a less expensive alcohol, or even a wine that you could fortify? Bobak's sells a "Tradycyjny Polski-Spiritus Rektyfikowany" that is a grain alcohol of 190 proof.


    MLS, I think using a more generic alcohol base, like this Bobak's variety, would probably be the way I'd go, if I were to take on making my own bitters, and if I did, I'd also go very simple with maybe two or three ingredients (I'd leave the 40-herb formulations to the House of Angostura).

    I have not really thought of making my own alcoholic beverages, though I must admit that I was intrigued by the late Joe Danno's home-made concoctions at Bucket O' Suds -- and his labels (as on Elixer Lucifer, etc.) were classic...

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #36 - May 18th, 2006, 5:33 am
    Post #36 - May 18th, 2006, 5:33 am Post #36 - May 18th, 2006, 5:33 am
    Living as I do in a land of home-infusers, I've picked up a few hints over the past few years that may add to this discussion.

    Swedes love their snaps and snaps in its original form is nothing more than home-infused vodka. There is a whole family of snaps over here that is bitter in varying degrees - from kind-of-bitter-plus-other-herbs to downright eye-shutting bitter. There are several herbs that may be used to get bitterness but the favorite is certainly "malört" (wormwood in English, Artemisia absinthium). I've read that the flowers of the plant give the finished product its aroma while the leaves give it bitterness. Malört grows wild up in these parts. Harvesting a small sack of wormwood leaves and flowers in the late summer by yourself on an island in Stockholm's archipelago makes for a quite a special bottle when winter's darkness sets in. "Pors" (bog myrtle in English, Myrica gale) makes a fantastic addition to malört, providing a subtle, citrusy sweetness.

    Admittedly, these herbs may be difficult to find in Chicagoland and I can't list any bitter-tasting substitutes off of the top of my head. But, other favorite herbs/flavors are caraway, dillseed, coriander seeds, cinammon bark, sandelwood and dried citrus peels (frequently dried seville orange peels). Lemon grass is an interesting newcomer (maybe some lemongrass, a piece of galangal and makrut lime leaves for an Asian twist - either drunk or splashed on som gravlax) and Christmas snaps may include many of the gingerbread spices. Berries are, of course, very popular and particularily non-challenging (we served unsweetened, homemade sloe berry snaps at our wedding).

    Two tips:
    1) Contrary to what I've seen suggested (and what I've thought myself), weaker proofs are considered best for infusing. I'm honestly not sure why but believe it may simply be because 180 proof alcohol has a way of impeding flavors when consumed. 37% alcohol is considered perfect (i.e., you may actually need to add a little water to most vodkas). One exception is for berries - a stronger proof (45-50% alcohol) is recommeded as they tend to release water into the finished product.

    2) You can either add herbs directly to the vodka you intend to eventually consume or you can make an "essence" by soaking a larger amount of the ingredients to be infused in a small amount of vodka. This makes a super-infused essence which you then may use to flavor vodka or other spirits to a level that you find comfortable. This is especially helpful when using bitter herbs as the bitterness can really get out of hand.
    Last edited by Bridgestone on May 19th, 2006, 1:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #37 - May 18th, 2006, 9:15 am
    Post #37 - May 18th, 2006, 9:15 am Post #37 - May 18th, 2006, 9:15 am
    Bridgestone wrote:Living as I do in a land of home-infusers, I've picked up a few hints over the past few years that may add to this discussion...


    Bridgestone,

    Very interesting stuff... In light of what you say, the alcohol contents of the Italian amari make more sense...

    I wonder if I can grow malört in my garden... :wink:

    Tack så mycket.

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #38 - May 18th, 2006, 10:44 am
    Post #38 - May 18th, 2006, 10:44 am Post #38 - May 18th, 2006, 10:44 am
    I love Bridgestone's understatment "180 proof alcohol has a way of impeding flavors when consumed." Never drink 180 or even 151 alcohol straight. But I don't know whether the high alcohol improves steeping or not. The Polish grain alcohol recipes all steep the flavoring agent directly in the alcohol, then cut it later with syrup or water.
    I have tried several of your suggestions in ordinary, read cheap, vodka. It is amazing how close you can come to the taste of aquavit by steeping in caraway seeds. I have used dill weed, though not seed, for a very subtle, but clean taste. Basil works great too. I have used black pepper to good effect, but all my endeavors with jalapenos have turned out too hot to drink by themselves-the alcohol seems to amplify the heat. Other hot peppers also led to hot brews. They might be fine in Bloody Marys, but not straight and iced the way I like them. Most recently I used lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves;it sounds better than it tasted.
    Isn't wormwood what makes absinthe illegal?
  • Post #39 - May 18th, 2006, 10:51 am
    Post #39 - May 18th, 2006, 10:51 am Post #39 - May 18th, 2006, 10:51 am
    MLS wrote:Isn't wormwood what makes absinthe illegal?


    Shhhh!!!

    :wink:

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #40 - May 18th, 2006, 11:02 am
    Post #40 - May 18th, 2006, 11:02 am Post #40 - May 18th, 2006, 11:02 am
    MLS wrote: But I don't know whether the high alcohol improves steeping or not. The Polish grain alcohol recipes all steep the flavoring agent directly in the alcohol, then cut it later with syrup or water.


    The solvent properties of alcohol enable it to extract flavors from herbs, etc., so it would seem (and perhaps this is overly simplistic chemistry) that the higher the alcohol level, the more efficient the extraction process -- i.e., the more essence you'd get out of the herb.

    Hammond
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #41 - May 18th, 2006, 11:17 am
    Post #41 - May 18th, 2006, 11:17 am Post #41 - May 18th, 2006, 11:17 am
    MLS wrote:Isn't wormwood what makes absinthe illegal?

    Although it's not available online through the New Yorker site*, I would recommend an article by Jack Turner in the March 13, 2006 New Yorker on absinthe that traces its history and delves a bit into the laws against it. Quite informative and very interesting. For what it's worth, I believe Turner also wrote a book on the history of spices in the past few years that was generally well received.

    * If you Google around, there is a scanned version of the article available online as a pdf, but I won't link to it as I believe there may be some copyright problems with doing so (as it is unclear whether the person or organization who scanned that version in was authorized to do so).
  • Post #42 - May 21st, 2006, 7:54 pm
    Post #42 - May 21st, 2006, 7:54 pm Post #42 - May 21st, 2006, 7:54 pm
    David Hammond wrote:I have not really thought of making my own alcoholic beverages, though I must admit that I was intrigued by the late Joe Danno's home-made concoctions at Bucket O' Suds -- and his labels (as on Elixer Lucifer, etc.) were classic...

    Fans of Joe’s concoctions should know Binny’s seems to be closing out Auburn and Alumni for $5 a bottle. They had large quantities a couple weeks ago but I don’t know what the supply is now. As I understand it Joe’s grandsons make (made?) these from the original recipes. Auburn is Elixir of Lucifer and Alumni is Chocoocoo.
  • Post #43 - May 22nd, 2006, 12:10 pm
    Post #43 - May 22nd, 2006, 12:10 pm Post #43 - May 22nd, 2006, 12:10 pm
    Rene G wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:I have not really thought of making my own alcoholic beverages, though I must admit that I was intrigued by the late Joe Danno's home-made concoctions at Bucket O' Suds -- and his labels (as on Elixer Lucifer, etc.) were classic...

    Fans of Joe’s concoctions should know Binny’s seems to be closing out Auburn and Alumni for $5 a bottle. They had large quantities a couple weeks ago but I don’t know what the supply is now. As I understand it Joe’s grandsons make (made?) these from the original recipes. Auburn is Elixir of Lucifer and Alumni is Chocoocoo.


    The Danno boys got enmired in a lawsuit: http://www.theplainsman.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2004/10/21/4177b25e44153

    The Bos Distilling site (http://www.bosdistilling.com/) is shut down with the words "Thank you for your patronage. It was a pleasure to have shared our products with you."

    Looks like that's all folks.
    “Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV?”
  • Post #44 - May 27th, 2006, 1:14 pm
    Post #44 - May 27th, 2006, 1:14 pm Post #44 - May 27th, 2006, 1:14 pm
    Here, as promised a while back, is a shot of the Cynar bitter pop available here in Montreal:

    Image

    Given what it says on the label, maybe only the flavors come from Cynar, but the pop is produced here in Canada. Whatever, it's sure good!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #45 - May 27th, 2006, 3:20 pm
    Post #45 - May 27th, 2006, 3:20 pm Post #45 - May 27th, 2006, 3:20 pm
    Geo wrote:Here, as promised a while back, is a shot of the Cynar bitter pop available here in Montreal...


    Tabarnac, vî soçon! C'est pas fair!... je voudrais goûter ça asteure mais c'est pas disponible ici aux Illinois.

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #46 - May 27th, 2006, 3:28 pm
    Post #46 - May 27th, 2006, 3:28 pm Post #46 - May 27th, 2006, 3:28 pm
    Ah Antonius! Life is not fair, as a former presidente once said...

    But I could certainly bottle up a bit for you and send it, if you'd like. Give me a PM with your address and I'll do it next week when I descend once more South of the Border to my boite de poste americaine.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #47 - May 27th, 2006, 3:51 pm
    Post #47 - May 27th, 2006, 3:51 pm Post #47 - May 27th, 2006, 3:51 pm
    Geo,

    Okeedoke, et merci bien!!!

    A
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #48 - May 30th, 2006, 1:33 pm
    Post #48 - May 30th, 2006, 1:33 pm Post #48 - May 30th, 2006, 1:33 pm
    Does Cynar the soda taste like Cynar the aperitif?

    Unlike the aperitif, the soda label has no artichoke on it, or are those artichoke leaves? The logos are different too.
  • Post #49 - May 30th, 2006, 2:04 pm
    Post #49 - May 30th, 2006, 2:04 pm Post #49 - May 30th, 2006, 2:04 pm
    MLS--

    I don't know--I've never actually tasted the aperitif... : ( We'll have to let Antonius make that call.

    It does taste very very close to Campari, tho', I can tell you that. Don't know what the leaves are, there's some sort of reddish fruit laid out on them. Artichoke leaves look like standard thistle leaves. There's supposed to be a Cynar web site, but I couldn't find it.

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #50 - May 30th, 2006, 2:40 pm
    Post #50 - May 30th, 2006, 2:40 pm Post #50 - May 30th, 2006, 2:40 pm
    MLS wrote:Does Cynar the soda taste like Cynar the aperitif?

    Unlike the aperitif, the soda label has no artichoke on it, or are those artichoke leaves? The logos are different too.


    Those don't look really like artichoke leaves to me and I have a nice big healthy plant growing in my backyard. But the name cynar implies rather strongly that artichoke is a central ingredient, since the scientific name of the artichoke is cynara scolymus. Artichoke leaves are the source of the medicinal bitter that is used in the aperitif.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #51 - May 30th, 2006, 3:00 pm
    Post #51 - May 30th, 2006, 3:00 pm Post #51 - May 30th, 2006, 3:00 pm
    Antonius wrote:Those don't look really like artichoke leaves to me and I have a nice big healthy plant growing in my backyard.

    In a pot? I saw a beautiful artichoke plant at Gethsemane, but didn't think it would weather too well here so we didn't end up buying it. I'd appreciate hearing about your experience.

    Kristen
  • Post #52 - May 30th, 2006, 3:07 pm
    Post #52 - May 30th, 2006, 3:07 pm Post #52 - May 30th, 2006, 3:07 pm
    kl5 wrote:
    Antonius wrote:Those don't look really like artichoke leaves to me and I have a nice big healthy plant growing in my backyard.

    In a pot? I saw a beautiful artichoke plant at Gethsemane, but didn't think it would weather too well here so we didn't end up buying it. I'd appreciate hearing about your experience.


    Kristen,

    No, Mr. Carciofo is connected directly to earth and represents one of the more exciting additions to our garden this year. In connexion with the previous discussion, the leaves can be seen clearly in the first of the two photos.

    Image

    Image

    To be honest, I'm a little nervous about how things will work out and if any one has any first hand experience with growing artichokes and is willing to share some advice, I'd be most interested.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #53 - May 30th, 2006, 4:20 pm
    Post #53 - May 30th, 2006, 4:20 pm Post #53 - May 30th, 2006, 4:20 pm
    Geo wrote:Don't know what the leaves are, there's some sort of reddish fruit laid out on them. Artichoke leaves look like standard thistle leaves. There's supposed to be a Cynar web site, but I couldn't find it.
    I think those could be Chokeberries. That would make sense since they are very bitter and grown in Canada. However, the leaves don't really look like chokeberry leaves (although it is hard to tell from the picture).

    Campari bought Cynar in 1995. According to the Campari website, there are 13 ingredients in Cynar. The only one they will admit to is artichoke leaves. Others have speculated Cynar contains quinine, anise, cinnamon, corriander, gentiana root, lemon rinds, lime rinds and clove, none of which have berries that look like the label. However, that list still leaves 4 ingredients unaccounted for.
    Last edited by d4v3 on May 30th, 2006, 4:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #54 - May 30th, 2006, 4:21 pm
    Post #54 - May 30th, 2006, 4:21 pm Post #54 - May 30th, 2006, 4:21 pm
    Nice pictures. And thank you for including the giant in the picture for size reference. What is that plant, about six, seven feet tall?

    :wink:
  • Post #55 - May 30th, 2006, 4:37 pm
    Post #55 - May 30th, 2006, 4:37 pm Post #55 - May 30th, 2006, 4:37 pm
    Antonius,

    If I be not mistook, there appears to be a pepper plant or two nestling up to Mr. Choke! What have you got there??!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #56 - May 30th, 2006, 4:41 pm
    Post #56 - May 30th, 2006, 4:41 pm Post #56 - May 30th, 2006, 4:41 pm
    Call me a cynic, but it seems entirely possible that the amateurish graphics on the "Cynar" pop packaging betrays palming, knocking or ripping off. The elegant deco liquor trademark looks nothing like that, and the color could hardly be more wrong.

    Possibly not truly "Cynar" any more than Lizano-brand Costa Rican "Tabasco" (which is a damn fine hot sauce all the same).

    Or, to be fair, maybe the name is simply descriptive of the main ingredient and the target market is delicate-stomached botanists.

    How's it taste?
  • Post #57 - May 30th, 2006, 5:37 pm
    Post #57 - May 30th, 2006, 5:37 pm Post #57 - May 30th, 2006, 5:37 pm
    JeffB wrote:Call me a cynic, but it seems entirely possible that the amateurish graphics on the "Cynar" pop packaging betrays palming, knocking or ripping off. The elegant deco liquor trademark looks nothing like that, and the color could hardly be more wrong.
    I found the company's website here.
    http://www.cynardrinks.com/Ourhistory.html
    Cynar is a Toronto bottling company that has been in business since 1960. I don't think they ever had anything to do with the Apertif. They probably just chose that name because it was familiar to new Italian immigrants (Italian Cynar was not introduced until 1949). Although they started out making pop for the ethnic Italian and Portuguese markets in Toronto, it seems in recent years, Cynar has just been bottling generic and private label cola and ginger ale. They just recently introduced 3 "world" flavors including the "Bitter Milano" pictured above. So those may very well be Canadian chokeberries pictured on the label, which in itself is intriguing.
  • Post #58 - May 31st, 2006, 8:55 am
    Post #58 - May 31st, 2006, 8:55 am Post #58 - May 31st, 2006, 8:55 am
    Very interesting. Thanks.
  • Post #59 - May 31st, 2006, 10:54 am
    Post #59 - May 31st, 2006, 10:54 am Post #59 - May 31st, 2006, 10:54 am
    kl5 wrote:Nice pictures. And thank you for including the giant in the picture for size reference. What is that plant, about six, seven feet tall?

    :wink:



    Kristin... thanks!... Yes, six or seven feet, at least ( :wink: )... He's grown quite a bit since we planted him -- the artichoke plant, that is -- but one of the baby flowers has dried out and died recently, hence my worry.

    By the way, I forgot to mention that we got Mr. Carciofo at a place that's about half way between where you live (I think) and where we live, namely Grand Street Gardens (2200 West Grand). A very nice gardening shop.

    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #60 - May 31st, 2006, 11:24 am
    Post #60 - May 31st, 2006, 11:24 am Post #60 - May 31st, 2006, 11:24 am
    Ah, I have admired Grand Street Gardens in the past, despite its name. (Why not Grand Avenue, I ask?) I bought two hanging cacti there about a year and a half ago and they are still doing beautifully, despite sporadic neglect. However, I'm in Austin (on the West side of our fair city) now and finally with a little bit of earth, so I've been seeking out more local greenhouses. Got some great plants at this place last weekend and will probably be back there sooner rather than later. No artichokes in evidence, though!

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