|Bitters tasting at Marie Laveau|
Boker’s Bitters (mistakenly called Bogart’s Bitters in the 1862 edition of Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide), was supposedly created by John G. Boker around 1820, and he sold the company to his son-in-law Louis Funke in 1860. Nobody seems to know for sure, but production may have ended with Funke’s death in 1892.
There are a few old recipes around, and people like Adam Elmegirab and Jamie Boudreau have been experimenting and researching, with such good results that they decided to reintroduce the bitters to the public.
Curious as I am, I decided to give it a go myself. I compared all the recipes found in my vintage book collection, and decided to use the one from Workshop Receipts, published in 1883. I also decided to follow it as closely as possible, with a few personal twists – and the result is not bad at all!
So, what’s next? I wanted to compare it to the commercially available versions, so I went to Marie Laveau, where they made two Martinez cocktails – one with Dr. Adam Elmegirab’s Boker’s Bitters and one with my own.
Before tasting the cocktails, I compared the bitters on their own. Mine was definitely heavier, with cardamom and citrus and a nice coffee aftertaste. Elmegirab’s version was lighter and more floral.
The Martinez cocktails tasted quite different, but both were very nice! My bitters seemed to have a bigger impact on the taste, though. After comparing them side by side I came to the conclusion that both versions of Boker’s Bitters worked really well in the Martinez, but in different ways – it’s just a matter of personal taste. Since I haven’t tried the “real thing”, I’m very happy with my achievement so far. Next time, I’ll probably make a few adjustments, which I hope will make it even better!
Currently, Trader Magnus’ Boker’s Bitters is available at these bars in Stockholm, with more to follow: