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Martini, hold the twist

November 16, 2007 | 11:24 am

LemonmartiniAs everybody knows, an old-school Martini is just gin (or vodka) and dry vermouth, garnished with either an olive or a twist of lemon. Now there's a more emphatic way to apply the lemon.

Fee Brothers, which has put out a line of rather mild-mannered bitters in recent years (including a mint bitters and a peach bitters with scarcely any bitterness to them), recently introduced a lemon bitters that is anything but mild-mannered. It's a mixture of lemon oils and lemon grass with a distinct bitter edge and a glowing lemon fragrance. Add a drop or two to a Martini and you have a Lemon Martini -- cheerful, but not that far from thoughtfulness.

So far we haven't been able to find Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters at any stores but Surfas, but that should change. This is great stuff.

We are definitely living in a bitters renaissance. Last year the Stirrings company of Fall River, Mass., better known for its drink mixes, announced a blood orange bitters. It's finally become widely available, and it does have a marvelous nose of orange and sweet spices. It's scarcely bitter at all (and apparently contains no alcohol because you have to refrigerate it), but just a few drops will add wonderful poetry and complexity to many a cocktail. 

Fee Brothers Lemon Bitters, $4.75 for a 4-ounce bottle at Surfas Restaurant and Supply, 8824 National Blvd., Culver City, (310) 559-4770.

Stirrings' Blood Orange Bitters, available at Hi-Time Wine Cellars, 250 Ogle St., Costa Mesa, (800) 331-3005; Wine and Liquor Depot, 16938 Saticoy St., Van Nuys, (888) 622-1414; Wine House, 2311 Cotner Ave., West L.A., (800) 626-9463; Surfas; Beverages and More stores and Sur La Table stores. About $4.50 for a 12-ounce bottle.

-- Charles Perry

Photo by Charles Perry