Review: London Cocktail Society Bitters #1
London is crammed to the rafter with great cocktail bars, and London is crammed to the rafters of people who like drinking cocktails. So quite why no-one had thought of setting up a society for said people to meet other said people, whilst learning a little more about the products they so enjoy is beyond me. In fact it was quite beyond my now colleagues, Emma (the Ginmonkey) and Kate (from London Cocktail Guide) as well. That was September 2010 when, in a leap of blind faith, we figured we had either all had the same brilliant idea, or were all equally delusional; and so the London Cocktail Society was born.
Since then we have held countless events in cocktail bars across the capital, met a huge number of passionate and knowledgeable people both from within and without the drinks industry, drunk far too much, learnt a whole lot, and above all had a great deal of fun. One thing we have learned is that our members love getting hands on during our events, and so when we decided it was high time that we held an event focusing on bitters, the obvious idea was to have a go at making some. Teaming up with Master of Malt, we ran a competition for teams of LCS members to blend their own bitters from a range of single flavour infusions. The resulting products were blind tasted and the winning recipe containing angelica, coriander seed, ginger, black pepper, clove, sour cherry and cardamon was put into production and sold through Master of Malt’s online site.
Given the above, I for once cannot claim to be impartial in this review, but I can say I am rather proud of what we have created.
Neat: A healthy dose of bitterness from the angelica is immediately followed by a mix of clove, cardamon, and coriander. This is swiftly followed by an intense spicy warmth from the ginger and black pepper. The pepper spice in particular lingers on and on whilst the coriander and clove in particular dance in the background. The cherry doesn’t have too much of a chance to shine until the other flavours start to fade, at which point is adds a nice round note to the finish in a vain attempt to soften the blow from the rest of the intense flavours!
Of course the real test of any bitters is how they mix. When I first tasted the winning recipe I had concerns that as delicious as they are, they might not be all that versatile. for once, I was pleased to be proven wrong, and indeed I find them to be very versatile indeed. In sour-style drinks, the spicy ginger and pepper notes come to the fore whilst in more aromatic cocktails such as the Martinez, the reverse happens and the deeper flavours of coriander clove and cardamon take pole position. Sweeter drinks bring out more of the cherry, and bitter drinks seem to achieve a balance of all the different flavour profiles. The result is a hugely versatile bitters that are quite at home in all manner of cocktails. They also play nicely with other bitters, with the pipette dispenser allowing for a delicate touch where necessary. These are not bitters that sit quietly in the background, but I like them all the more for it.
The London Cocktail Society Bitters #1 may have been created by ‘amateurs’ but you wouldn’t guess it from the taste. They pack a punch but are also hugely versatile making for a delicious addition to every home bar.
London Cocktail Society Bitters #1 are available to buy from Master of Malt.
★: Terrible, only drink for a dare.
★★: Meh, not undrinkable but best left alone.
★★★: Reasonable, middle of the road.
★★★★: Tasty stuff, well worth seeking out.
★★★★★: Incredible, booze doesn’t get better than this. You need a bottle in your life.