Consider the picture above a sneak preview of a future post about the excellent Heirloom Tomato Dinner I attended at Zingerman's Roadhouse last night. But I don't have time to write that post right now.
So instead, I'm going to talk about celery.
Did you know that Michigan used to be one of the country's major celery growers? Sadly, in recent years we've dropped quite a bit. But once upon a time, Kalamazoo, MI was a major celery center. One of the products that was produced in Kalamazoo was a celery bitter.
Unless you're a cocktail afficianado, the only bitters you've probably heard of - if you've heard of them at all - are Angostura bitters. But once upon a time, there were many different kinds of bitters. Orange bitters, mint bitters and yes... celery bitters. Want to learn more? For the Cliff's notes version, checks out this Wikipedia entry on bitters. If you're really hardcore, delve into the "All About Bitters" thread on eGullet.
Zingerman's Roadhouse has a "classic cocktail" program, and they've dug up all sorts of archaic cocktail recipes. For the Heirloom Tomato dinner they offered three different cocktails - a classic Bloody Mary, a tomato water martini, and a celery sour. Celery bitters are an essential component of a celery sour. But there's a small problem - no one makes celery bitters anymore. Fortunately, little details like that never hold Zingerman's back from seeking quality and authenticity, so they set out to make their own.
Unfortunately, I don't have the recipe for those. I only have the recipe for a celery sour, which may not do you much good without the bitters (but could be worth a try anyway...)
chiffonade of celery leaves
1 part gin (preferably Plymouth)
1 part freshly sqeezed and strained lemon juice
1 part fresh pineapple juice
4 drops of celery bitters
Place some of the celery leaves in the bottom of your glass. Add a few drops of gin and muddle to release the celery goodness. Add ice and the remaining liquids. Shake in a cocktail shaker and pour back into the original glass.
Of the three cocktails, this was by far the unexpected favorite. (In the picture below, it's the leftmost.) I look foward to getting back to the Roadhouse to try it again!