Jennifer Tyldesley, creator of artisanal bitters Free Pour Jenny’s, shares her best tips on adding a dash to your cocktails, cooking and baking
To find ingredient inspiration for her bitters, Jennifer Tyldesley walks right out her back door to the boreal forest. There, she finds spruce tips, rose hips, fireweed flowers and more, which she uses to make her artisanal bitters. “I’m so spoiled by the wealth of ingredients we have growing here in the boreal forest—I just had to use them,” she says. “I challenged myself to use some kind of local ingredient in each bottle.”
Wengage chatted with Jennifer to learn more about how to add a dash of bitters to your life.
How do bitters enhance a drink?
They add balance. So much of what we eat and drink now is overly sweet and cloying. Bitters add a different element; it’s something that we crave. It’s what makes a great cocktail or mocktail.
If you haven’t tried bitters before, how should you start?
The biggest thing I tell people is not to be afraid. Dash bitters liberally into your soda water. Think of it like an extract. When I explain it that way, it frees people up to be a little more adventurous. I love bitters in a cocktail—try it in a gin and tonic or a martini.
That sounds delicious. Can you use bitters in baking or cooking too?
I use my Solstice bitters instead of vanilla extract. There’s a real vanilla flavour to the Solstice bitters because there’s vanilla bean in them, as well as molasses and low bush cranberries from the forest. It’s a great baking ingredient. You can try bitters in salad dressing or marinades. Put it in a hot chocolate. If you’re making whipped cream throw a teaspoon of bitters into it. Just see how it turns out—it’s amazing!
Can you share a couple favourite cocktail recipes?
I’d be happy to.
From Cold Spell, Cocktails and Savouries for a Northern Winter by Michele Genest & Jennifer Tyldesley.
My co-author Michele and I created this cocktail to showcase Yukon Spirits Two Brewers Whisky. It’s sweet and tart and opinionated, like its namesake.
1.5 oz Yukon Spirits Two Brewers Sour Mash Whisky 4 oz Longueville sparkling apple juice 1 dropper-full Free Pour Jenny’s Rhubarb Bitters
Stir ingredients over ice. Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. No garnish.
From Add Light and Stir, Cocktails and Savouries for a Northern Summer by Michele Genest & Jennifer Tyldesley. A northern adaptation of the classic Singapore Sling invented at Raffles Hotel in Singapore.
1.5 oz Yukon Spirits Forty Below Gin 1 oz cherry brandy 0.5 oz Yukon Spirits Haskap Berry liqueur 0.75 oz lime juice 2 oz soda water 1 dropper-full Free Pour Jenny’s Solstice or Cranberry Bitters A wedge of pineapple, grilled
Build in a Collins glass over ice. Leave the drink layered in the glass, or if you prefer, stir it briefly. Garnish with grilled pineapple.