Time once again for new bitters from "the House of Fee by the Genesee since eighteen hundred and sixty-three". Fee Bros. just released their Black Walnut Bitters.
When I was a child my paternal grandparents had a walnut tree in the backyard. One massive limb served as the support for a tire swing, but my brother and I discovered that the tennis ball-sized unripe walnuts were fun to throw at each other. And when cracked open, contained a juice that would stain your hands for days. I don't recall eating any of the fully mature walnuts--somehow pecans were a more popular harvest in my family. But walnuts are delicious, and I enjoy using them in a lot of different dishes, particularly as part of a stuffing for thick pork chops.
This new product has a dark and earthy profile with a wonderful walnut aroma. I found it to be a nice addition to a mediocre Bourbon, where it added complexity and depth. But I'd really love to use a few dashes of this in a batch of cookie dough.
When it was time for a cocktail, I thought that the nutty bitters demanded a pairing of jelly. Fruit preserves have been used in cocktails for a long time, and are recently making a comeback as part of the mixology craze that's hit the hipsters. The pectin gives the drink a slightly silky mouthfeel, but mainly you're getting a concentrated fruit flavor and you don't have to worry about what's in season. Use good stuff (here I used Oregon organic strawberry preserves) and watch out for the sweetness, but even a dollop of cheap marmalade will help you when you don't have any orange peel on hand. Want to get crazy? Put a little jalapeño jelly in your next batch of margaritas. Plus, while you're mixing you can throw out old phrases like "It must be jelly, cause jam don't shake like that!"
Benito's WB&J Cocktail
2 oz. White Rum
½ Tablespoon of Fruit Preserves
Dash of Black Walnut Bitters
Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly and strain into a glass filled with ice. I like remnants of fruit in my cocktails, but if you prefer a cleaner presentation, strain through a fine mesh screen.
Yes, it does taste a bit like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Not an everyday kind of cocktail, but amusing and tasty for an afternoon experiment. This brings the bitters collection up to fifteen. Currently I keep them in a box in the living room, but I'm thinking that an enterprising bartender could wear them all on a bandolier for quick access whenever a cocktail needs just a little something extra.
Note: This product was received as a sample.