So for the past two weeks, I’ve been eyeing my first batch of Hellfire Bitters, which have been infusing in my refrigerator. I waited as long as I could in high anticipation, then forgot about it for a week, which certainly made waiting a bit more bearable.
I finally opened the jar and tried them this past weekend! And….they were disappointing. Why? Because I didn’t follow the directions properly. Booo.
Credit goes to bitters manufacturer Zach Feldman for gently pointing out my error first. When I posted the details & photos from my experiment, he astutely noted:
Not to be a weenis, but I noticed that the recipe calls for straining *after* the two weeks is up — did you choose to strain beforehand because chilies infuse so quickly? It’s just that without any solids in your mix, there’s nothing for the vodka to keep pulling flavor from.
I went back and checked the directions — darn, he was right. I had strained out the chiles too soon, assuming that a two-week steep would yield intolerably too-hot bitters. I was wrong. Tasting the bitters straight up, there was a little bit of capsaicin tingle (mostly around my gums, which was rather offputting). But when added to a drink, the bitters added nothing at all, just a swirl of brown color.
Blogger and fellow cocktail geek Frederic saw this coming a mile away, commenting:
Keep in mind that “unbearable” for an infusion drank straight is different than “unbearable” for an infusion used dashwise…
Right said, Fred. It’s back to the drawing board for me!