I first learned about this aperitif reading an article in The Palm Beach Post. It was an interview with French restaurateur Daniel Boulud. When asked about his favorite cocktail, chef Boulud answered “Bitter for Better”, without hesitation, and listed the ingredients.
It was a yes for me. Not only because this is my year of the aperitifs, but also because Bitter for Better’s main ingredient is Ron de Venezuela Santa Teresa 1796.
Never has a cocktail ever had a better name. I love bitters. They bring the best of rum to the palate. Hence, the name: Bitter for Better.
I contacted the father of the baby, Xavier Herit, head bartender of Daniel (the three Michelin starred restaurant in New York City) and co author, with Boulud, of the book Cocktails & Amuse-Bouches For Her & For Him. Xavier not only sent me the recipe, he was so kind that he sent me a picture, so we can have this Bitter for Better in Southern California, as if we were in Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Two comments on two of the ingredients:
Bonal Gentiane Quina is a French aperitif wine. It’s a mistelle, infused with gentian root, quinine and herbs from the Grand Chartreuse Mountains, close to Grenoble, in France. It’s very complex, with a bittersweet character that definitively stimulates the appetite.
Fernet Branca is an herb bitter spirit, an Italian amaro, very aromatic: it’s made with more than 40 herbs and spices such as cardamom, chamomile, myrrh, quinine, rhubarb and saffron on a grape alcohol base. It’s usually served as a digestive and it’s produced in Milano, Italy, by the Branca family.
No need to say this is a very classy cocktail. Thank you Xavier for being such an amazing modern alchemist.
2 oz Ron de Venezuela Santa Teresa 1796
1 oz Bonal Gentiane Quina
4 drops of Angostura bitters
4 drops of Peychaud´s bitters
1 rinse of Fernet Branca
Orange peel for garnish
Inside a mixing glass, stir the rum, Bonal and both bitters together with ice. Rinse a rock glass with Fernet Branca and add ice cubes. Strain the mix into the rock glass. Garnish with an orange peel.