Bitter truth about hard-to-find bitters

The Bitter Truth Jerry Thomas BittersIn his article “Bitter Truth About Hard-to-find Bitters,” Gary Regan suggests trying The Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic or Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters if you should happen to run out of Angostura:

“Then there’s The Bitter Truth, a new – to this country, at least – line of German bitters that includes a great bottling called Old Time Aromatic Bitters and another that proudly wears a label proclaiming them to be Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters.

The Jerry Thomas bottling is simply divine. When used in a Manhattan, it makes the cocktail jump all over your mouth yelling, ‘I’m over here now,’ then, ‘I moved over to this cheek,’ then ‘Catch me if you can.’ It’s a complex little potion.

I can’t tell you that any of the aforementioned bitters are a substitute for Angostura. There is no substitute for Angostura. These babies are worth taking out for a spin, though, as the Friar Serra Flip will demonstrate.”

Photo by Craig Lee / Special to The Chronicle

Friar Serra Flip

Adapted from a recipe by H. Joseph Ehrmann at Elixir in San Francisco.

  • 1 ounce Dry Sack Sherry
  • 1 ounce Combier orange liqueur (see Note)
  • 3/4 ounce Bols Genever
  • 1 egg
  • 4 dashes Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter bitters from The Bitter Truth (see Note)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 orange twist, as garnish

Add all ingredients, except garnish, to a cocktail shaker and shake without ice for 10 seconds to emulsify the egg. Add ice, shake again, strain into a small wine goblet, and add the garnish.

Note: Substitute Cointreau or another high-quality triple sec if you can’t get your hands on Combier. Bitter Truth bitters are available from Cask (17 Third St., San Francisco) and other stores.