If you’ve ever been to a fancy cocktail bar, you’ve probably noticed that they have a collection of antique-looking bottles on display. These may look like some kind of 19th-century medicine ampules, but they are actually cocktail bitters.
What Are Cocktail Bitters?
Cocktail bitters are a type of alcoholic ingredient combined with herbal ingredients such as seeds, herbs, roots, flowers, and leaves among others. They provide a bittersweet flavor to traditional cocktail drinks.
Several well-known brands of bitters were traditionally sold for medicinal purposes. Today, they are mainly sold as cocktail ingredients and digestive bitters.
How to use bitters in cocktails
Well, there are several ways in which you can use bitters in your cocktail. We are going to be sharing the top 10 bitters for your drinks:
1. Angostura Aromatic Bitters
The angostura is an aromatic bitter which was created by a German doctor named Johann Gottlieb in 1824. The Angostura bitter comes in a unique yellow capped bottle with a label on the neck. As put nicely by Brian Kane "Ango is always used to add standalone depth of spice and finish to almost anything it meets."
2. Peychaud's aromatic cocktail bitters
The Peychaud's aromatic cocktail bitters are easily recognizable cherry-red colored bitters that can be associated with New Orleans and are used with famous hometown cocktails like Sazerac and Vieux Carre. This bitter is a bit sweeter than Angostura and has few hints of star anise spice.
3. Regans Orange Bitters
This orange bitters was created by Gaz Regan and created by bon vivant barman Gaz Regan. This brand is usually known for having a spicy hint across its drinks. You will find flavors like coriander and cardamom. You can get an instant hit of floral notes and fresh orange peel.
4. Bittermen Xocolatl Mole Bitters
This is a cocktail bitters from Avery and Janet. They began creating the original bitter in 2007 and have cacao and cinnamon among the many spiced with which it is made. As per Meaghan Dorman, She says “It really stands up to drinks and adds flavor with a touch of bitterness". A lot of bartenders love to create magic with this cocktail bitters.
5. Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit Bitters
These bitters best suit the drinks that have some citrus flavor in them. It can well be thought of as citrus bitter since you can use it martinis, gin and tonics, and white Negroni. When it comes to having a bunch of bitters, after Angostura, Peychaud, and orange bitters, you should have this.
6. Bittermen Elemakule Tiki Bitters
This bitter has spices like cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and cardamom. Do not go on its color because it is a very intense bitter. You can consider it as a cola, leather, and island spice mix.
7. Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters
The Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters was created by Nicholas Kontsevich and Ira Kaplowitz. This brand uses raw ingredients in their blends. Their special cherry bark vanilla bitter makes use of an aged whiskey base which is also the favorite of Aaron Polsky who happens to be the bar manager of Harvard & Stone in Los Angeles.
8. Scrappy's Celery Bitters
This cocktail bitter was founded by Seattle bartender Miles Thomas and launched in 2008. This bitter make extensive use of celery bitters which means you will get a balance of celery leaves, celery seeds, and some hint of dill and fennel pollen.
9. Pimento Aromatic Bitters By Dale Degroff's
The Pimento Aromatic Bitters is another handmade blend from Pimento berries that has an allspice berry and comes with some star anise and there is also some addition of sweet-smelling herbs. This bitters is used for many different cocktails such as Pina Coladas, Sazeracs, and other whiskey-based cocktails.
10. Orange Bitters by Orange Truth
This is among the very popular bitters which have hints of fruity and delicious cocktails. This bitter consists of orange peels and multiple different types of herbs and spices. Such a bitter can be used for spirits like whiskey, vodka, gin, and rum.
Cocktail Bitters vs Digestive Bitters
Digestive bitters, on the other hand, are said to help relieve digestion problems, such as bloating, heartburn, and nausea. They are believed to maintain healthy skin and liver, too.
What’s in Cocktail Bitters? Why Add Bitters to a drink?
Cocktail bitters contain water, alcohol, and a range of botanical ingredients. Alcohol dilutes the herbal extracts and also acts as its preservative.
Bitters add spice to cocktails. Not only because bitters are literally made up of spices such as roots and barks, but also because it complements the main ingredients of the cocktail and enriches its flavor.
The intensity of the flavor, however, differs widely among various brands of bitters.
Best Bitters for Cocktail
Bitters give your plain cocktails a boost, which can heighten your overall drinking experience. Some cocktails that are best with bitters include classic bourbon mixes such as Old Fashioned and Manhattan. Bitters are also great with rum and ginger beer for a refreshing summertime cocktail.
Whatever cocktail concoction you fancy, you can be sure that there are specific bitters to make your drinks more flavorful and delightful.
How Do I Add Cocktail to Bitters?
Usually, just a drop or two of bitters is enough to bring out the flavor and aroma of the liquid.
What Are the Other Uses of Bitters Besides Cocktails?
Bitters are not just great for adding flavor to classic drinks, they can add some serious oomph to your cooking and baking as well. Moreover, there are more creative uses for bitters aside from mixing cocktails. For instance, try putting in a few drops of orange bitters to your favorite recipes for the ultimate treat.