Say what you will about the craft cocktail movement but the one thing it has done very well is find lost treasures. There are numerous Cocktails, Liqueurs & Bitters that had formally been lost (or just extremely difficult to find), that have been researched, rediscovered and revived.
Yet for every Batavia arrack or Old Tom’s Gin that has resurfaced, there was always one particular type of Bitters that remained allusive. Mentioned by Jerry Thomas in his The Bar-tender’s Guide, Bogart’s Bitters has always remained a mystery. Thomas, known to some as the grandfather of mixology and commonly believed to be one of the most influential bartenders of the 19th Century, had his book published in 1862.
Well, 156 years later, the German Bitters company, The Bitter Truth, believe they have not only sorted out the recipe but also formulated a bitters that is as close to the original as we are ever going to see. But it was not only the bitters themselves yt also the name that the company had to contend with.
Back in the 19th Century, the brand of bitters that was commonly sold was known as “Boker’s bitters,” but historians believe that Thomas spelled the name wrong, thus it became Bogart’s bitters. In honor of Thomas, The Bitter Truth decided to name their recreation as he had spelled it. Unfortunately the brand disappeared (with so many others) during Prohibition and the original recipe was lost.
But Stephan Berg and Alexander Hauck, partners in The Bitter Truth, having found a super rare original bottle – one of the only known bottles to have survived with genuine remaining contents, have spent the last 10 years investigating the subject and pouring over formulations.
“We were fortunate enough to procure a bottle that not only contained a quantity of the original product, but was affixed with a surprisingly well-preserved label,” says Stephan Berg, co-founder of The Bitter Truth. “That allowed us to not only recreate what was inside, but inspired us to replicate nearly every bit of the exterior, down to the glass specially made for us in the same shape and color as the original iconic ‘lady leg’ bottle.”
With its rich dark-chocolate and coffee flavour these new Bitters can adds layers of depth to classic concoctions like the Manhattan or an Old-Fashioned.
For the more adventurous, it goes a long way towards brings to life more obscure Jerry Thomas–era classics like the Brandy Crusta (Brandy, Bogart’s Bitters, Curaçao, Lemon Juice, & Gum Syrup) or a Japanese Cocktail (Brandy, Orgeat, Bogart’s Bitters).
Bogart’s Bitters have been released in limited quantities, but are available through Masters Of Malt for $AUD53.69