Posted by: Matt Browner Hamlin | June 10, 2009

A Sweet Union: Bittermens & The Bitter Truth

I know well the moment I fell in love with craft cocktails. Sitting at the bar in Death & Company for the first time over a year and a half ago, I was sipping an old fashioned variation called The Conference. Holding a rocks glass that contained bourbon, rye, cognac, calvados, demerara syrup, angostura bitters and a hunk of ice the size of my fist, I marveled that such an intense recipe could taste so marvelous. What held it all together and made all the difference in the world in terms of how well the cocktail worked was the ingredient that was most unfamiliar to me: Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters. The chocolate flavor worked with the brown spirits and sugar syrup and added just the right complexity to a very boozy cocktail.

When I decided to stop merely visiting fine cocktail bars and learn to make my own drinks, I decided the best way to start would be to learn how to make my favorite drink, The Conference. So I went out and bought bottles of Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Rittenhouse Rye, Courvoisier VSOP, Calvados Morin Selection, and Angostura bitters. Unfortunately when I searched for Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters, I found they weren’t yet for sale; only select bartenders at high-end bars had been given access to them. By visiting Bittermens website, I found that the company was involved in a long-running struggle with the TTB and state level regulatory agencies covering food and alcohol. This resulted in repeated delays in their bitters arrival on the market. As a result, I couldn’t make an authentic version of The Conference (though I was able to get by on the generosity of Adam Bernbach – formerly of Bar Pilar – who gave me a small bottle of his delicious chocolate bitters).

The good news today is that Bittermens is partnering with The Bitter Truth, an incredible bitters company in Germany who makes some of the best craft bitters on the market, to distribute their Xocolatl Mole and Grapefruit bitters. They will be for sale later this month. You can preorder them online today at The Bitter Truth’s online store.

Obviously I’m ecstatic about this development. I’m already anxious to receive my bottle of Xocolatl Mole bitters and, for the first time, make The Conference as Brian Miller intended it.

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