Named one of the top 10 bartenders throughout history, renowned New York-based Gary “Gaz” Regan has helped pioneer the idea that bartending is a profession with the potential to “change the world”. He’s written countless articles and books on the subject, and even created his own wildly successful flavor of bitters.
In the early 1990s Gaz was having a hard time sourcing orange bitters that he actually enjoyed using in his cocktails, so he decided to set about making his own. Armed with a recipe from 1939’s The Gentleman’s Companion: An Exotic Drinking Book, he set to work. The recipe called for orange peel and warm spices like cardamom, and Gaz decided to add some traditional aromatic bittering agents like gentian & cinchona for depth. He set off to the Village in Manhattan to procure the ingredients and before long his wife was calling him the Weekend Alchemist. Their apartment began to fill with jars of differing amounts and ingredients that he tended to and futzed with every day.
On his fourth try he came up with a formula that he loved, but batch number 4 ran out after only a year. When he tried re-creating the recipe on a larger scale, he ran into issues with the freshness of one of his ingredients and had to go back to the drawing board. Eventually he teamed up with the makers of Peychaud’s Bitters in New Orleans, and before long they’d reached formula number 6, which tasted great, could be reproduced on a large scale, and met all the requirements needed to be sold commercially. The rest is history!
Regan’s Orange bitters offers a delicate, yet complex orange flavor infused with spicy cinnamon and cloves. They’re most often used in Manhattans and Old-Fashioneds, but they’re tasty enough to be used in almost anything! Bon Appetit recommends using them to recreate the original dry Martini recipe, which is almost indistinguishable from what we think of as a martini today. In the early 1900’s, and the word “dry” referred to the type, not the amount, of vermouth used. Along with orange bitters, this recipe contains equal parts gin and dry vermouth! Please watch the video below to see just one way to put Regan’s Orange bitters to use in your home bar.
Classic Dry Martini
1 1⁄2 oz. London dry or Plymouth gin
1 1⁄2 oz. French white dry vermouth
2 dashes Regan’s orange bitters
Strip of orange peel
In a mixing glass, combine gin, vermouth, & bitters, with plenty of ice. Stir until well chilled and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a strip of orange peel over the top and drop it in.