Our Spanish importer asked if we could make bitters that would complement a gin and tonic that had a heavy cucumber note to it. The bitters that we came up with were amazing – bright briny cucumber notes and aroma that were supported by tart Chinese winter melon and aromatic juniper berries.
Unfortunately, these bitters were impossible to make in volume as one of the key ingredients, a hydrosol (or water distillate), was only available after the cucumber harvest and was only made in such small volumes that we couldn’t make more than a hundred cases a year.
For the past four years, we’ve been trying to find a way to reproduce the bitters without the hydrosol, but we’ve never got it to work exactly right. However, one test batch did something completely unexpected. The sourness of the winter melon came forward, the berry notes became a bit more prominent and the cucumber moved into a supporting position. The result was a bright bitterly sour blend that worked beautifully with a whole range of clear spirits.