Booze You Can Use

Phoebe Esmon Breaks Down Bitters: Batram’s Recipe and a Sweet Sounding Cocktail

Bartram's Bitters was created in the 1830s.
Bartram’s Bitters was created in the 1830s. Photo: Courtesy of Bartram’s

Though the Bartram family recipe for bitters has been around since the 1830s, it’s Philadelphia Distilling and Fair Food Philly that have brought it back to shelves. And during an upcoming fundraiser, some top-shelf bar stars, like Phoebe Esmon, will ‘compete’ to create the most popular cocktail. But for those of us cocktail drinkers that don’t know too much about the stuff, Emson took a minute to elaborate on the background of bitters and the Bartram’s Garden event.

“Bitters are a way to add flavors to a cocktail without adding liquid, “said Esmon. “As a person that makers their own bitters, its really cool. I’ve been doing it for a few years now. My methodology is very low-tech. It’s a maceration process.“

Back in Bartram’s day, bitters were used as medicine.

“Bartram was a doctor and he’d make bitters. Some soda and bitters for an upset stomach works every time.”

During Wednesday’s event, Esmon will be using the Bartram’s recipe and her cocktail is sure to make you feel all right. She’s making a punch, which she says is a great way to serve at a social event.

The Dr’s Companion will include Penn Distilling’s organic, 1681 Rye Vodka, a strawberry pistachio syrup, Bartam’s Bitters, green tea and sparkling wine.

Tickets to the fundraiser are pricey at $75 for a Social Sipper package, but available, and go to benefit the Bartram’s Garden’s, the oldest garden in North America.

According to officials at Bartram’s, the original combo for Bitters is as follows:

The recipe calls for mixing several astringent plant extracts - gentian root, prickly ash bark, cherry bark, and calamus root - with aromatic and flavorings in an alcohol‐water base. The aromatics and flavorings combine European medicinal plants - orange peel, caraway, and bitter almond ‐ and native North American species - sassafras and wintergreen. The base was diluted, sweetened with sugar, and colored. The final products would have been a potent 37.5% alcohol or 75 proof.


Phoebe Esmon Breaks Down Bitters: Batram’s Recipe and a Sweet Sounding