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Bartram Bitters

  • Date: May 16, 2012
  • Time: 1:30pm - 4:00pm

A lively evening of curious cocktails and convivial company, in a beautiful and historic setting on the banks of the Schuylkill River.

Choose your favorite cocktail featuring Bartram Bitters – a curious and beautiful flavor locally and artfully created from a Bartram family recipe. This recipe is recreated for by Philadelphia Distilling and Fair Food. Using primarily local and organic ingredients, it adheres as closely as possible to the traditions the Bartram family would have used in the 1830’s.

Custom concoctions will be crafted for you by:
Christopher Walls of Deterra
Theo Webb of FISH
Phoebe Esmon

Treats provided by Ashley Power of Power Catering Events with support from Jen and Mitch Prensky of Supper

Ticket Prices:

$50 – Young Friend – Includes one ticket plus complimentary bottle of Bartram Bitters   (Use promo code “YoungFriend”)

$75 – Includes one ticket plus complimentary bottle of Bartram Bitters

$125 – Includes one ticket, one bottle of Bartram Bitters, plus one-year Bartram’s Garden membership




How does John Bartram, America’s first botanist, inspire a new interpretation of a traditional cocktail mixer? While organizing books in the Bartram’s Garden archives, curator Joel Fry found a folded piece of paper tucked into an 1846 copy of A.B. Stong’s The American Flora. The handwritten paper, “Receipt For Making Bartram’s Homestead Bitters” included a formula. It is not signed or dated, but probably dates back to the mid‐19th century and is written inthe hand of John William Bartram (1813‐1866), a great-grandson of John Bartram, the Botanist.

Because of the Bartram’s long‐standing association with medicine and commercial plant ventures, as well as the popularity of bitters in America during the mid‐19th century,there is a strong possibility that this recipe was used for commercial production.

The “Receipt”
The recipe calls for mixing several astringent plant extracts – gentian root, prickly ash bark, cherry bark, and calamus root – with aromatic and flavorings in an alcohol‐water base. The aromatics and flavorings combine European medicinal plants – orange peel, caraway, and bitter almond ‐ and native North American species – sassafras and wintergreen. The base was diluted, sweetened with sugar, and colored. The final products would have been a potent 37.5% alcohol or 75 proof.