The Bitter Elder. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

The Bitter Elder. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

It’s race week here in Key West, but my thoughts are with Donna in chilly Cleveland. It’s winter when I most crave bitters in a cocktail. Happily a suggestion on Twitter brought up a new cocktail for me, the Bitter Elder, and before I departed for southern climes, we gave it a go. The cocktail, which balances the bitterness of Campari with the sweet elderberry flavors of the liqueur, makes for a splendid libation, especially for those in the cold grays of the north.

I salute you from the southernmost and wish you a happy Friday Cocktail Hour.

bitter elder2

The Bitter Elder

  • 1.5 ounces gin
  • 0.5 ounces Campari
  • 0.5 ounces St. Germain
  • 0.5 ounces lemon juice
  • Twist of lemon
  1. Stir the liquids with ice in a shaker and pour into a chilled coupe. Garnish with a twist.

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© 2014 Michael Ruhlman. Photo © 2014 Donna Turner Ruhlman. All rights reserved.


4 Wonderful responses to “Friday Cocktail Hour: The Bitter Elder”

  • SOL

    Having appreciated your inventiveness and accuracy in your books and blog, I might note that elderflower, not elderberry, is the source for the St. Germain. Bet you knew that and this was just a fast fingers “typo”.

  • Garth Clingingsmith

    I am falling down the cocktail rabbit hole–I’ve got all the hardware and have mastered any of the ‘sours’, mojitos, margaritas, gin and tonics and negronis (hasty or otherwise).
    What I need to know, is what are the 8-12 must have, go-to bottles that comprise a home bar, please.
    Thank you!

    • JDee3

      Well, I’m no expert, but no one else has answered yet. So, here’s the top 12 liquors & mixers in my home bar:

      Rye whiskey
      Bourbon (lots of great whiskey & bourbon choices out there; currently drinking Bulleit)
      Gin (Plymouth, Tanqueray and Hendrick’s are all favorites. With three very different flavors)
      Dark/golden rum (Flor de Cana is excellent)
      Light/white rum (Bully Boy, a local brand, is another favorite)
      Tequila, aged (1800 Tequila Reserva is quite good)
      Sweet vermouth
      Dry vermouth
      Angostura bitters
      St Germaine (elderflower liqueur)

      – And if you want to go a little more in-depth, the 12 next-most-used in my bar are:

      Triple Sec
      Domain de Canton (ginger liqueur)
      Benedictine (try it in a Vieux Carre cocktail)
      Agave syrup (as an alternative to simple syrup in some drinks)
      Grenadine (mostly for a splash of color)
      Heering cherry liqueur
      Belle de Brillete (pear liqueur)

      And of course…

      Fresh fruits & herbs (especially mint & basil)
      Brandied cherries (not those fluorescent red ones)
      Simple syrup (just make it yourself)
      Soda water (from a seltzer bottle)

      It took a while to build all that up, but you can create quite a range of classic or modern, fresh and simple drinks with all of the above. Definitely a fun hobby, -enjoy!

  • Garth Clingingsmith

    Thanks for taking the time to write that down! Great info. Anyone else?


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