Bitters are one of my favorite miscible ingredients and flavors to add to a cocktail. They can vary anywhere from a drop or two per cocktail or a full half ounce in a drink. Bitters are basically a spirit flavored with herbal or fruit essences. Some bitters, like Angostura were created to fight sea sickness and stomach ailments on ships.When it comes to making a cocktail with Bitters, you’re trying to hit all the tastebuds in your mouth. There’s sweet, sour, salty, umami and bitter. Bitter tastebuds are located on the very back of your palate. Bitters are that finishing touch to any drink. They help to keep a cocktail lingering on your tongue until you take another sip.
Bitters can be made from a variety of ingredients ranging from; angostura bark, cassia, gentian, orange peel, wormwood, artichoke leaf, cardamom, caraway seed, coriander, cloves and sugar.
They’re simple to use from a bitters and soda or you can try your hand at an Angostura Fizz, which is an extremely tasty cocktail.
Their simplicty doesn’t just end at their use in cocktails, but how you can make your own at home. Bitters, by Brad Thomas Parsons is one of the greatest Bitters books you can buy, especially for the home bartender.
Usually you will have a few components to your homemade Bitters including a Bitter blend, citrus blend, spice blend and a fruit blend. For example for my homemade Apricot Bitters I did a separate Bitter blend, Citrus, mixed spices and then a fourth jar with fresh and dried apricots.
The Bitter Truth (Big fan of the Jerry Thomas Bitters)
Fee Brothers (If you can find the Barrel Aged Bitters, get it!)
Regans (Makes a classic Orange Bitters with strong cardamom notes)
Peychauds (Classic for Sazerac’s)
Angostura (Your Bitters used in Manhattan’s and Old-Fashioned Cocktails)
Dr. Adam Elmegirab Bitters (makes amazing Boker’s and Hellfire Bitters!)
Bittermens (Make some interesting bitters and tonics like Hopped Grapefruit)