It's just that sometimes you can too much of a good thing. At last month's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, I was fortunate to try concoctions that were shaken or stirred by some of the most talented cocktailistas in the world. One event, the Diageo Around the World Cocktail Party, featured 30 bartenders inventing drinks featuring liquors from the Diageo portfolio. With so much talent seeking to one-up each other, the bartenders really pushed the envelope, and in a lot of cases the defining factor was their use of bitters.
There is a bit of a prejudice against sweet drinks, unless you're making a kitschy tiki drink like a mai tai, so bitters are a good way to ensure that you won't be lumped into the "girl drink drunk" category. But the very nature of the concept of bitterness runs contrary to what most people find pleasurable.
According to Paul Clarke, bitter flavors have an evolutionary role in nature. Plants that are bitter are usually poisonous, and their taste is interpreted as a warning by your nervous system. In some cases though, the old pain/pleasure conundrum can lead you to think that this risky taste might lead to something fun; and that's why bitters can excite a cocktail. To some people, but not me lately.
Maybe my will to live is stronger than my desire to live life on the edge, but I guess I'm all bittered out. I certainly appreciate the artisan house bitter programs at places like Patterson House and Past Perfect. In the hands of a professional, these little flavor bombs can be a part of something special.
But in my home bar, a shake of Fee Brothers in an old-fashioned or a few dashes of Peychaud's in my Sazerac are enough for me. I like to taste the liquor.
How about you, Bitesters? Are you Bitters Bitesters or so over it?