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What are Bitters?

No, it's not your job that you left with a one week notice.

Simply put, bitters are a concentrated, aromatic solution made by infusing herbs, spices, and other botanicals in high-proof alcohol. They are typically added to cocktails by the "dash" to add complexity and depth to the drink.

Angostura bitters are the most popular version and are a staple in any bar.

They are not meant to be drank neat, like an amaro would be as they are much more concentrated than Fernet or Campari. They also lack sugar, making them different from amaros.

Types of Bitters:

There are several types of bitters, each with their own unique flavor profile and uses in cocktails:

  1. Aromatic Bitters: The most commonly used type of bitters, aromatic bitters are made with a blend of herbs, spices, and botanicals. They add a bitter, spicy, and slightly sweet flavor to cocktails, and are a key ingredient in classics like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan.

  2. Citrus Bitters: Made with a combination of citrus peels and other botanicals, citrus bitters add a bright, zesty flavor to cocktails. They are often used in drinks that feature citrus flavors, like the Margarita or Daiquiri.

  3. Herbal Bitters: Herbal bitters are made with a variety of herbs, including thyme, sage, and rosemary. They add a savory, herbaceous flavor to cocktails, and are often used in drinks like the Bloody Mary. (We also love a lavender bitters here in the PNW)

  4. Fruit Bitters: Made with fruit and other botanicals, fruit bitters add a sweet and tangy flavor to cocktails. They are often used in drinks like the Cosmopolitan or the Gin Fizz.

History of Bitters:

The origins of bitters can be traced back to ancient Egypt, where herbal remedies were used to treat a variety of ailments. In the 16th century, apothecaries in Europe began using bitter botanicals like wormwood and gentian to create medicinal tinctures.

By the 19th century, bitters had become a popular ingredient in cocktails. Bartenders began using bitters to add dimension to their cocktails, and the popularity of bitters-based cocktails like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan grew rapidly.

However, bitters fell out of favor during Prohibition, when the production and sale of alcohol was banned in the United States. It wasn't until the cocktail renaissance of the early 21st century that bitters began to make a comeback, with bartenders and home mixologists rediscovering their versatility and flavor.

Cocktails that Use Bitters:

  1. Old Fashioned: This classic cocktail is made with whiskey, sugar, water, and bitters. Aromatic bitters are the most commonly used type in an Old Fashioned.

  2. Manhattan: Made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, the Manhattan is a classic cocktail that is typically garnished with a cherry.

  3. Negroni: A bitter and complex cocktail made with gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, a bitter Italian liqueur.

  4. Sazerac: A classic New Orleans cocktail made with rye whiskey, sugar, Peychaud's bitters, and absinthe.

You don't have to be an expert to practice making aromatic cocktails. Take a shot at any of these easy home cocktails, and don't forget the bitters!

If you purchase our Old Fashioned Cocktail Mixer, everything is already included in the bottle, including the bitters. Just pour over ice, garnish, and serve.


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