If you’re a words person, there are two unique names that come to mind. If you’re a visual person, you’re mentally seeing a yellow lid and an ill-fitting label or the fancy script born of an apothecary collection. We, of course, are talking about bitters.
Once sold as patent medicines, the wide variety of bitters shrunk to today’s ubiquitous duo of Angostura and Peychauds (a shrinkage attributed to Prohibition if my faint memory from our history lesson serves me at all- a memory clouded by cocktails no doubt). Though dashes of each have truly bolstered the world of spirits, the time is nigh for more variety, and this is where Pittsburgh’s organic whiskey distillery comes into play.
Most Pittsburghers who know their way around a rocks glass are well acquainted with Wigle Whiskey, but just in case you’ve been sipping champagne only, here’s the distillery’s story in their own words-
Wigle is named for a good-natured man who was sentenced to hang for his unsinkable love of whiskey. In 1794, Phillip Wigle defended his right to distill in a tussle with a tax collector. He unwittingly helped spark the Whiskey Rebellion, which pitted Pennsylvania distillers against George Washington’s troops. Wigle Whiskey is working to restore a Pennsylvania tradition championed by these rebellious distillers. We make spirits much the same way Wigle and his friends did when Pittsburgh was the epicenter of American Whiskey – with a copper pot and local ingredients.
Family owned and operated, Wigle seems to know no limits. Not content to rest on the laurels of the organic whiskey pouring from the beautiful copper stills of their modern tasting room, the business continues to seek new ways to boost the cocktail scene. On this night, we were celebrating the release of their small batch bitters. The best way to test bitters is, of course, with cocktails mixed and shaken by the experts.
Meyer Maple Sour
From Wes Shonk of Butcher & The Rye
2 oz Wigle Organic White Rye Whiskey
1 oz Meyer lemon juice
.75 oz maple syrup
2 dashes aromatic bitters (optional egg white)
Cold shake & strain over ice into rocks glass.
Avigation (not pictured)
From Chris Kuhn of Social at Bakery Square
1 1/2 oz Wigle Organic Ginever
1/2 oz Creme de Violette
1/3 oz Triple Sec
1/3 oz Lime Juice
1/3 oz Lemon Juice
1/8 oz Wigle Organic Rosemary Lavender Whiskey Bitters
Combine in a shaker filled with ice and strain into cocktail glass.
Todd from the Pop Stop created two popsicles for the event, Horchata made with Wigle’s new Aromatic Bitters and Apple Rosewater, made with Wigle’s new Rosemary Lavender Bitters. My friend-for-life Nina B. quality controlled the Apple Rosewater popsicle, and it passed with flying colors [of bright green]! My Horchata pop was so good it never made it in front of the camera.
Stay tuned to Wigle (as I surely will!) because their list of products and events continues to expand until eventually, variety will be restored, and it just might feel like Prohibition never even happened.