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Your Guide To Bitters


Bitters are a versatile cocktail ingredient that every bartender or home cocktail crafters should be familiar with. The concept of modern bitter was evolved in the 1800s. Before then, it had been used in ancient Egypt as an alcohol ingredient and flavor.

Bitter technology was once on the verge of extinction. Its disappearance and resurfacing were due ban of alcohol production in the US. The remerging of bitterness is due to cocktail crafters and mixologists' efforts in attempts to better cocktails flavors and taste.

So, what exactly is bitter?

Bitter is a liquid ingredient derived from botanicals such as barks, aromatic herbs, and roots. These ingredients are infused in cocktails with the surge of creating different tastes.

As bitter is prominently growing, different brands are starting to make their own. Consequently, bitter's flavor and taste are becoming more diversified due to the use of different ingredients in different brands.

The common known taste of bitter has always been fruity notes, cloves, and cinnamon. However, the rising of modern companies' different flavors such as chocolate, cherry, and coffee is being made.

So, what are the types of bitterness?

  1. Herbal bitter

Herbal bitter categories differ by large. They have different flavor, taste, and aroma. Categories of herbal bitter comprise lavender, tarragon, and thyme.

  1. Nut bitters

These bitters are relatively the latest invention. They have progressing popularity, especially between bartenders and home cocktail crafters. Surprisingly nut bitters aren't nuts; in fact, they consist of coffee and chocolate. Their only similarity to other nuts is the dark roasted flavor.

  1. Aromatic bitters

Categories of aromatic bitters are vast, which makes them the most popular cocktail bitter. They are derived from herbs, spices (cloves and cinnamon), and barks, hence their great aroma.

Amongst the varieties of aromatic cocktail bitter, angostura is considered the most versatile pick. Its recipe is complex, but you can find it readymade. It's the key secret behind popular cocktails flavors.

  1. Citrus bitters

Citrus bitters are also extremely popular. Just like aromatic bitters, they too are used in various cocktail recipes. The most popular bitter from the citrus collection is the orange bitter. Its flavor is outstanding and quite popular. Apart from orange bitter, there are other multiple bitters from citrus, including lemon and grapefruits.

Cocktails that use bitters in their recipes

 Manhattan and old fashioned

The Manhattan and the old-fashioned cocktail are made from Angostura Aromatic bitters. Angostura is a complex aromatic bitter that has up to 40 ingredients. Since it's derived from barks, herbs, and flowers, it has great aromatic properties. Additionally, Angostura bitter helps in settling an upset stomach.

Due to the bitters' complex recipes, its Ingredients are shipped from England and taken to Trinidad for production. However, Angostura can also be made in German.

Besides Manhattan and old-fashioned angostura, bitter also plays a part in making a champagne cocktail. Champagne cocktail with bitters preparation is relatively easy and concise. By simply dropping a sugar cube in the flute, you proceed by adding angostura and topping the glass with champagne.

 Sazerac cocktail

Sazerac cocktail recipe consists of whiskey or cognac, sugar, and Peychaud's bitter. Peychaud's bitter is derived from gentian flowers and roots that grow alpine temperate alpine regions. Gentian is associated with an aromatic flavor.

Furthermore, the cocktail is topped with a rinse of absinthe, usually flavored with aniseed and fennel herbs. The herbs are naturally sweet, but the bitterness of wormwood neutralizes the sweetness. Sazerac cocktail also consists of other bitter flavors such as lemon balm, hyssop, spearmint, and coriander.



Sawyer can be homemade, or you can get it from your bartender, provided that he has the right recipe. It super-rich in bitter since it's made with 28 dashes of three bitter varieties. The recipe constitutes gin, lime juice, and simple syrup. It calls for fourteen angostura dashes and seven dashes orange and Peychaud's bitters on the bitter side.

Why should you use bitter cocktails?

Helps indigestion

Aside from just being a flavor and cocktail ingredient, bitters have health benefits. They have digestive properties, which makes the cocktail variety good for your stomach and digestion.

Accentuates other tastes.

Using bitter in a cocktail does not mean that you will get the typical bitter flavor. It plays other parts such as the accentuation of other tastes; sourness and sweetness. 

Supports liver function

Bittering agents support the liver in the detoxification process and regulating metabolic processes as well.