New year, new hobby and a little bit of “did ya know?”

January 10, 2012

I’ve mentioned once or twice lately, that I’ve been crushing on an idea for a new hobby, thanks to some creative gift giving:

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This is a book that gives a brief (and WAY too short) history of Bitters.  For those of you who may not know, Bitters are basically the salt and pepper of a drink.  Which is a completely non-elegant way of saying their a way to add some serious layers and depth to a cocktail.  I had never really given much thought to bitters, other than Angostura bitters go in Old Fashioneds and Manhattans.  But three sentences into this book, I was hooked.   It turns out, Bitters are really interesting.  The history alone is fascinating.   Think about it, just a few years ago, in 2004, there were only 3 commercial brands of bitters available., vs the hundreds that were available prior to the Prohibition.  In the mid 1800s, bitters were considered medicinal (probably had something to do with the “beneficial effects” of the alcohol content…) and you can imagine how this really helped kick start the bitters business – taking a swig of bitters was technically drinking in the morning, but for medicinal purposes.  Eventually, the theory of bitters being medicinal was challenged and marketing it as such was deemed illegal.  Follow that up with the Prohibition and a lot of the smaller, less reputable bitters companies took a major hit.  It hasn’t been until recently that bitters are making a comeback in a BIG way.  I was pretty excited to learn that even my home  town, good ol’ Lancaster County, had its hand in the bitters business.  Dr. J Hostetter’s Stomach Bitters.  Supposedly, it was really popular in the mid 1800s and had 47% alcohol, earning it the nickname of “liquid courage”  on the civil war battlefields.  The business did pretty well for itself, rounding out with over 6000 bottles sold, A DAY.  That’s a lot.

So with all of this interest in bitters, I’ve decided to give making my own bitters a shot and learn how to mix some creative drinks along the way.  I’m going to start with the major (typical) drinks and work from there.  The goal is to get creative (in a tasty way) and as usual, learn as much as I can – I’ve got my eyes on a biography of sorts, Imbibe! on Jerry Thomas, one of the more famous of the American bartenders.  Geeky?  Maybe…but it won’t stop me from trying… 🙂

See??  It looks sweet and fruity, but it was actually very refreshing and was almost like a Sour Cherry Mint Julep.  A little out of place on a wintery Sunday night, but I can see this packing up well in a big Mason Jar and going along for the ride for a perfect Summer picnic!

And lest we forget part 2 of the goal!

Folks, I present to you the early stages of my first batch of bitters.  I went for an Apple bitters, which is flavored with some different spices and bark/roots and of course, apple peels, with a bourbon base.  Its a three week process, but fingers crossed its worth the wait!

Its a relaxing evening  here at home, I’ve managed to get pretty much everything done this evening that I wanted to.  Laundry is away, the last of the Christmas gifts are unpacked and organized.  Everything is prepared for tomorrow , because I don’t really have a lot of time in the mornings, I like to pack my lunch ahead of time and plan out an outfit, so my mornings are as smooth sailing as possible. This goes double for tomorrow, because its one of my morning workout days.  I’ve been working really hard at thinking of a non-training workout schedule.  I’m thinking 1-2 rest days a week and at least 4 days of running.  I’d like to bike for my cross training on the other days and always incorporate at least 2 days of meaningful lifting a week.   The kind of lifting where your muscles are shaking when you put down the weights.  The hardest part about working out in the AM is getting UP.  But the best part about working out in the AM, is the good mood it throws me into for the day and coming home to an evening of relaxing! With rain forcasted for tomorrow night, I can guarantee I’ll be thanking myself when I come home.  Rainy nights are meant for curling up with a book and a cup of tea.  What are some of the ways ya’ll motivate yourself to get to your workouts???



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