After a tortuous wait at the bank on Friday as several million people picked up their Paralympics tickets, and finding one guy already scalping his recently acquired purchases in the parking lot, I headed to OT Lounge to get the truth about its bitters.
Along with diversifying the cocktail list, boosting the collection of single malts, and adding a thrice-weekly live music program at this bar / lounge / patio near the St. Regis Hotel, manager Leon Lee has started to make house bitters (see here for more on these potions).
The bitters sit in glass jars on the top shelf behind the bar and look like something you would find in a Chinese medicine shop. The base alcohol is erguotou and Lee steeps the ingredients, which include orange slices, ginger, lemongrass, and saffron, for between two weeks and four months. Grapefruit bitters can be made in as little as two days, he says, although because pulp gets into the mix, they have only a one-month shelf life.
We sampled several cocktails, including a version of the Part & Parcel, with vodka, grapefruit juice, and grapefruit bitters. The bitters toned down the juice and made for a pleasant after-work drink. The most intriguing cocktail: Titian’s Temptation, a mix of Campari, Sambuca, and lemon juice. It could use refinement, as the Sambuca blows your socks off on first smell and sip, but it grew on me and left me anything but bitter.