January 15th, 2010 | No Comments »

Well, it’s happened.  House of Angostura has supposedly gotten itself back on a more-or-less normal production schedule for its iconic bitters after a panic-inducing shortage sent big city bartenders into we-have-entered-the-end-times lamentations and a scramble to stockpile.  Thank God, although I will say I loved reading the comments that inevitably followed posts on the bitters shortage (a delightful mishmash of dramatic wailing that would’ve done a Greek chorus proud, spirited debates over the relative merits and uses of other brands of bitters, and virtual slaps across the face peppered with choice epigraphs like “perfumery crap” and “hiptarded”).

Meanwhile, the shortage has hit Nagspeake in force. It’s not hard to understand why. We aren’t known for our mixology, and while we have been known to panic just as absurdly as any bigger city out there, this just isn’t the first place you worry about when you’re a distributor trying to prevent the opening of the Fifth Seal and its corresponding Sign of the Apocalypse: the end of the true Manhattan. As a result, signs have begun to go up at liquor stores, groceries, and gin parlors all over the city that read: YES WE HAVE NO BITTERS and PROUDLY SERVING FEE BROTHERS and IF YOU OBJECT TO PEYCHAUDS FOR SOME STUPID REASON, RIDE YOUR HIGH HORSE SOMEPLACE ELSE. Meanwhile, several makers of artisanal bitters here in Nagspeake are seeing an increase in popularity. Even Nettles, the underground broadsheet that generally considers itself above such trendy cultural things as the cocktail, ran a half-page ad paid for by Ensign’s Ear Distillery urging readers and bartenders to MIX LOCALLY. SERVE MAGOTHY BITTERS.

Hipsters. Like anyone cares what kind of bitters go into an Old Fashioned.

No, don’t send me your rebuttals to that. I’m kidding.

Kind of.

There are plenty of locally-made options: Dr. Milsap’s Gentian Fogg, Navy Cutter, Al &  Sundry’s, and Vagarian’s Bitter Pills, which are bitters-infused sugar cubes made by Keenan Vagarian of Orris Pharmaceuticals–just to name a few. Any one of the first three will make a passable Manhattan, Pink Gin, or whatever, and Bitter Pills make killer Old Fashioneds. I myself, have been known to make the odd cask or two of bitters (if you’re curious, come by Magothy Treats after the guy I’m rooting for has lost a fight and I will open up my bitters cabinet, which includes, besides my own concoctions, a few fairly old and dubious patent medicine bottles).

Still, a good shortage is nothing if not accompanied by a little unnecessary panic. I have decided to monitor the shortage here and see what good-natured mania it stirs up. At bare minimum, we should see some decent jackassery from the intellectual freaksnobs in the Printer’s Quarter. It’s Day One and I’ve already received three invitations to Bitter End parties. Oh, I’ll go, but I’ll feel (misguidedly) superior the whole time I’m walking around sipping my Sazerac.

Which is pretty lame, considering I’m among the hiptards who makes her own bitters.

Slinking back into the kitchen now.

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