How to Pair Alice & the Magician With Your Bitters
A couple drops of bitters are essential in making a perfect manhattan or old fashioned. The prominence of craft and specialty bitters in the high-end bar scene over the past few years has significantly changed the way we approach cocktail aromatics. Every bottle of bitters offers a slightly different aromatic quality, but can be highlighted and accentuated further with the use of Alice & the Magician.
How do you decide which Alice & the Magician Cocktail Aromatic will compliment your favorite bitters? Simple. We use science.
Before we begin pairing, it’s important to understand the distinction between bitters and Alice & the Magician Cocktail Aromatics. Bitters affect flavor primarily on the palate. A&M, on the other hand, affects flavor strictly through the sense of smell.
According to renowned sommelier and scientist, François Chartier, pairing food and drink that share common molecular qualities will create an end result far greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, 1 + 1 never equals 2 in aromatic science. It can equal 3, 10 — or even 100.
As Chartier argues in his book, Taste Buds and Molecules: The Art and Science of Food, Wine and Flavor, aroma can make or break a recipe. In fact, the most famous recipes in the world contain ingredients that share some of the same aromatic families (see chart on right).
Some common examples of food pairings that share molecular families are basil with tomato, strawberries with balsamic, and truffle with mushroom. There are also less obvious pairings, such as chocolate and blue cheese (it tastes like peanut butter) or coffee and salmon. Bartenders are used to balancing sweet and sour but the phenomenon of aromatic harmony is often overlooked.
The video below comes from Chartier's website. Here he shows three different recipes combining food and drink, all centered around Saffron, which he calls "the queen of spices."
Think of the perfect cocktail in terms of a band. The spirits and mixers are the drums and bass, the bitters are the rhythm guitar, and A&M is a killer guitar solo. With that metaphor in mind, we’ve broken down the science and theory of aromatic harmony and came up with a simple way to pair bitters with our cocktail aromatics.