Photos by James Eastman
We often refer to bitters as the salt and pepper for your cocktails. So let’s add some über-literal seasoning to your cocktails this issue with a batch of black pepper bitters. You’ll want to use quality peppercorns (Penzey’s here in town is a good source, or splurge on the exceptional Tellicherry Black Pepper from The Meadow, $14, atthemeadow.com). Use them as the spice component in our Naked Bitters kit. You’ll need 1/3 cup, cracked in either a mortar & pestle or with a sauté pan on a cutting board. Follow the rest of the kit’s instructions as normal.
These bitters are great with dark spirits like whiskey, but are just as good with clear spirits: a Negroni, perhaps, or a Gin Gibson with a pickled cocktail onion. They’re equally at home in the kitchen, as a finishing touch to shellfish, poultry and any number of sauces. Imagine freshly shucked oysters with an accoutrement of black pepper bitters. Maybe our friend Jon Wipfli over at the Minnesota Spoon would like some for his newly minted traveling oyster bar.
This issue we collaborate with The Altar Boy, AKA Tim Leary, of the Strip Club Meat & Fish in St. Paul, to bring you this can’t-miss cocktail—The AKA. It’s a delicious concoction of rye whiskey and two amaros: the dark as night Luxardo Amaro Abano, and the artichoke-scented Cynar. The spirits in the drink combine with a refined richness and the black pepper complements the bitterness with a subtle heat (“seasoning” if you will).
If you want to go nuts, and we hope that you do, try a batch of white pepper bitters as well. The differences are stark, yet subtle.
1½ oz Old Overholt Rye Whiskey
1 oz Cynar
1 oz Luxardo Amaro Abano
Easy & Oskey Black Pepper Bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with clean ice, adding up to 1/4 teaspoon black pepper bitters. Stir for 30 seconds to dilute, combine, and chill. Strain into a coup glass, garnish with a few additional drops of black pepper bitters. No citrus (or jacket) required.