Thursday, July 3, 2008

Lemon Coke Bitters

After my somewhat heretical experiment with red bull bitters I decided that I had enough of a proof of concept to try something a bit more tasty. When thinking about flavors one evening, I had a bit of a Proustian moment, and recalled a sort of faux-diner my folks used to take me to when I was growing up in Eugene. The food was fine, but the real treat were their lemon cokes. When the unrelentingly unrelenting heat of summer was forcing our skin to attempt to migrate north, they were the perfect refresher.

Lemon coke bitters? Yeah, I can do that. Or, as it turned out, not. It was pretty much one blunder after another. Two big mistakes were made which sunk the project.

1) I was still on the mixing of tinctures trail, and so procured a fair amount of lemons to make a tincture with. Wanting a very strongly lemon flavored result, I diced the lemon, and tossed the whole affair into the vodka. I knew that the juice from the pulp would dilute the affair, but figured an extra long steeping time would compensate, and I would still get plenty of bitter from the rind. Two months later taught me a valuable lesson -- Extra long may work, but extra long is extra long. What I had on my hands was pretty much a lemon heavy infused vodka. It did have some bitterness to it, and I hoped it would be enough. It wasn't.

2) To add some depth of flavor I decided to add a little of the cinnamon tincture I had left over from the first bitters experiment. Not following one of my favorite pieces of cooking advice (you can always add more, but you can't take any out) I overestimated the strength of the cinnamon, and obliterated what there was of the lemon.

On the up side of things, there was a nice hit of the coke flavor, and I felt that there was enough potential in the final product to think that I can learn from the mistakes. I'll definitely be trying this again as I'm pretty sure some slight tweaks can get me closer to what I'm looking for. I also picked up some wormwood with which to make another tincture should I require back-up bitterness assistance in the future.

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