Hellfire Bitters part 2, or, “when all else fails, follow directions”

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!


One thought on “Hellfire Bitters part 2, or, “when all else fails, follow directions”

  1. Save the infusion, add more peppers, and let it infuse for longer. All is not lost (save for time and the 1st batch of peppers you threw out).

    Or keep the infusion for spice wimps…

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