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A Bitter-Sweet Symphony

A Bitter-Sweet Symphony

How bitters will make your valentine’s day that much better
By Jessica Davey-Quantick
Feb 13
From the January/February 2019 Issue

Jennifer Tyldesley didn’t set out to make bitters brownies last Valentine’s Day. But when she couldn’t get all the ingredients she needed on her list, she got experimental. “Vanilla extract is really hard to come by these days,” she says. “You’re starting to see gaps on the shelves at the store and you can’t find it.” She swapped it in her recipe for her Solstice Bitters—a potent concoction of cinnamon, cloves, Yukon low-bush cranberries and star anise. “I made it with fresh whipped cream, and then of course put bitters in the whipped cream too. And it’s pretty delicious.” So delicious the brownies barely made it out of the oven before being gobbled up by her husband and kids. “You have to hide them,” she says. (This might make celebrating a solo Valentine’s all the more tempting: Netflix is not going to steal your brownies.)

Tyldesley started her company, Free Pour Jenny’s, in 2016, using locally foraged and home-grown ingredients to create Yukon’s own artisanal bitters—concentrated extracts brewed from aromatic ingredients and then added to food, baked goods and cocktails.


This Valentine’s Day, she suggests serving dessert with a cocktail from Add Light and Stir, Cocktails and Savouries for a Northern Summer, a cookbook she produced with Michele Genest. Try ‘Let’s Dance’, a gin-based drink inspired by David Bowie. “With something like a brownie that’s so rich, a sour is a nice way to balance that sweetness,” she says.

Let’s Dance


• 2 oz gin

• 1/2 oz Cointreau

• 3/4 oz Luxardo Maraschino

• 1/2 oz lime juice

• 10 drops FPJ Orange Bitters

• 1 egg white

• Edible flowers for garnish


Combine all ingredients except flowers in a cocktail shaker without ice. Shake. Add ice, and shake again. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with flowers.


Bitters Brownies

• 1 cup butter

• 1 cup white sugar

• 1 cup brown sugar

• 2/3 cup cocoa powder

• 3 eggs

• 1 1/2 tsp FPJ Solstice Bitters

• 1 cup flour

• 1 1/2 tsp baking powder

• 1 cup walnut pieces


Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt butter. In a large bowl, combine white sugar, brown sugar, and cocoa. Blend in melted butter with a wooden spoon. Beat the eggs in a separate, small bowl. Add beaten eggs and bitters to the sugar mixture, and stir together. Combine flour and baking powder in another small bowl. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture and stir batter until blended. Add walnuts, stirring to mix. Pour batter into a lightly buttered 9”x13” pan.

Bake for 20-30 minutes. (Insert a toothpick in the centre—if it comes out clean, it’s done.)

Serve with ice cream or whipped cream, topped with cranberries.