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Fee Brothers Mint Bitters

Bitter(s) Review: Fee Bothers Mint Bitters   (60/100)
Review by Chip Dykstra (Aka The Rum Howler)
Published May 16, 2019

Fees Brothers has been a family business since 1864, and is currently now owned and operated by the fourth generation of the family to do so, Ellen and Joe Fee. The company currently produces about 100 different products including an impressive line-up of Cocktail Bitters.

The particular brand of bitters which is the subject of this review is Fee Brothers Mint Bitters. These bitters come in the paper wrapped bottle shown to the left. When you twist off the lid, the opening is narrowed to the size of an eye dropper allowing you to add the bitters one drop at a time to your cocktails. (I’ll be frank and say that the paper wrapped label is a detriment to my enjoyment as it stains rather easily and cheapens the look of the product on my home bar.)

I checked the ingredient label on the back and found that the bitters are prepared from propylene glycol (a synthetic liquid substance that absorbs water and is also used as an antifreeze agent in the food industry), glycerin (a colorless, odorless, viscous liquid that is used as a sweetener in the food industry), peppermint oil, as well as FD&C yellow #5 and blue #1 (food colouring agents).

I wasn’t really sure how to use the Mint Bitters so I checked the Fee Brothers website and learned:

Fee Brothers Mint Bitters may be used as the principal or subordinate flavor in a wide variety of foods and drinks.

This website information doesn’t give me much to go on; and to be frank, the list of ingredients on the label inspire me to any great degree. So without much to go on I decided to experiment on my own. I began by putting a couple drops on my tongue. The taste is akin to the flavour of a sharp peppermint candy although not quite as sweet. This peppermint flavour is intense, dry and perhaps a touch spicy. I also noticed that the colour of the mint bitters is a bright iridescent green.

My first thought is that I could do without that vivid green colour. It makes the bitters seem very unnatural, a feeling reinforced by the ingredients list.

I did a little poking around the worldwide web and found that Mint Bitters are recommended in only a few cocktails, and usually only when real mint is not a viable option. Up here in the Great White North, that kinda makes sense. I have a hard time keeping my mint plants alive in the winter, and even when I do, the flavour imparted by my winter mint just doesn’t seem as nice as the fresh mint I grow outdoors in the spring and summer.

So I invited a bunch of friends over, and I made a batch of Mojitos with Fee Brothers Mint Bitters replacing the muddled mint with 2 dashes of bitters. I guess to make a long story short, the Fee Brothers Mint Bitters just didn’t cut it. The flavour was a little odd as the taste was more towards peppermint than mojito mint. I tried a Mint Julep the next day, and decided I had better stop using up my good spirits in these experiments.

My score for the Mint Bitters from Fee Brothers is 60/100 representing my opinion that these bitters have a very limited usefulness, if in fact they are useful at all. For cocktails, I would much rather use real mint, and if real mint is not available to me, I think I would just as soon make a different cocktail entirely. That may seem harsh, but it is also truthful. I might be more forgiving if the product had been identified on the label as Peppermint Bitters or perhaps even Peppermint Extract which is probably a more accurate depiction of what is inside the bottle.

This is one of the few products I have reviewed upon my website for which I have no serving recommendation.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You may (loosely) interpret the scores I provide as follows:

0-50 A concoction which if it doesn’t kill you will make you very ill indeed!
50-59 Not deadly, but not really useful either.
60-69 Limited appeal but useful for some cocktail styles.
70-79 Useful and versatile
80-89 Excellent/bold flavour enhancement for a variety of cocktails
90-94 A Must-have addition to your home bar
95+ Turns your cocktail into the Elixir of the Gods!

Very loosely we may put my scores into terms that you may be more familiar with on a Gold, Silver, and  Bronze medal  scale as follows:

70 – 79.5    Bronze Medal
80 – 89.5     Silver Medal
90 – 95         Gold Medal
95.5+            Platinum Award

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