A flavoring agent used to balance cocktails, bitters are an infusion of things like fruit peels, tree bark, roots, and flowers with high-octane alcohol. Described as a nonpotable ingredient (as opposed to potable digestive bitters, like Campari), Bitters has recently come to the forefront of contemporary cocktail culture. As a result, home bartenders of all levels are discovering this mysterious elixr and the wonderful effect it can have on your favorite cocktails.
A Quick History
The oldest and most common types of bitters are Peychaud’s and Angostura, the first named for its inventor and the second named for the Venezuelan town in which it was created. Some common cocktails with bitters like these are the Sazerac, Manhattan, and champagne cocktail, among many others.
A “Bitter” Experience
A Bitters Renaissance
After the “Angosturapocalypse” of 2009, when the famous Angostura bitters mysteriously disappeared from shelves only to reappear six months later, there came something of a bitters renaissance. All different types of bitters, like orange, lavender, celery, and even chocolate lined bartops and littered cocktail recipes as speakeasies came back into fashion. Popular bitters brands that produce flavored bitters like these are Fee Brothers, Regans’, Bittermans and Scrappy’s.
Bitters Types: A Brief Description
Bitters can be a very mysterious topic which can require some painstaking research, but here you’ll find a basic description of some of the most popular types. Generally, these are all fairly mainstream, but if you’re interested in making your own, kits are available:
Where to Buy Bitters
You can find bitters at many specialty grocery stores, but uncovering some of the more interesting flavors can become a real treasure hunt. After all your local grocery store is unlikely to carry bbq cocktail aromatic bitters . (Yes, that really exists.) As a result, turning to the internet to find the flavors that pique your interest is probably your best course of action. If some of the options above doesn’t tickle your fancy, some others include:
However you come by them, the next time you slug down a Sazerac or consume a Cuba Libre, take a moment to appreciate the oft-neglected flavor these infusions add to your drinking pleasure. If you’re feeling adventurous at home, try adding bitters to your favorite cocktails or even a glass of soda water. You might just find that bitters really do make everything better.