Such a tiny ingredient, used so sparingly, and yet it can revolutionize the taste and aroma of any cocktail. Classically associated with the yellow cap and oversized label that lives on shelves in grocery stores, these underrated little drops have come back in a big way. With the resurgence of the classic mixed drink following the Mad Men craze, the cocktail connoisseur is always looking for a way to make their standard drink into a unique libation experience.
That’s where bitters come in, and not just that standard Angostura bottle lost in the back of your liquor cabinet; these days the bitters worth imbibing are of the artisan variety, featuring tones of celery, chocolate, or crabapple. But what exactly are bitters?
Bitters are a concentration of select natural herbs, fruits and spices that are used to flavour cocktails and other culinary creations ranging from the sweet to the savoury. They originated as a medical ingredient that – while less so these days – still holds positive health benefits for digestive function. If that’s not a reason to grab a drink, I don’t know what is, and with Bittered Sling’s line of artisanal bitters flavours, there’s something for every cocktail and every cuisine.
But outside the classic Manhattan, how does one use bitters? These tiny drops pack a big punch, but they can also direct a specific flavour in a different direction, taking the edge off of sweetness, and enhancing the flavours already there. It’s the secret ingredient you didn’t know you needed, and we’ve got 5 ways to get the most out of these powerful potions.
Ways To Use Bitters
When it comes to cocktails, it’s the classic choice. Adding a couple drops of bitters can take the right drink in the right direction, and there’s a bitters for whatever your flavour.
In a savoury drink like your morning Caesar, try a drop of refreshing Cascade Celery for refreshing herbal tones, or mix it up with the peppercorn flavour of Shanghai Rhubarb. For something a bit mellower, you can add the perfectly paired Orange & Juniper to your standard gin & tonic for a refreshing twist on a summer afternoon.
Drinks don’t stop at cocktails – a few quick drops of a warm, fruity aroma like Plum & Rootbeer will be sure to spritz up your standard seltzer!
It’s the newest revolution in beverage pairings, and it’s a match made in heaven. The naturally bitter aroma and taste of freshly brewed coffee or espresso make a great base for some no-sugar flavour in your morning brew. Feeling sweet? That’s fine! Because adding a drop or two of cocoa & berry-reminiscent Western Haskap takes the “too sweet” edge off of a sweetened drink, as well as adding that little something extra to your black cup!
If you’ve ever tasted a bit of raw vanilla extract thinking “mmm, vanilla!” then you know there’s one word for extract – bitter! For that reason, bitters make the perfect compliment to your next sweet treat! Bring back the aroma of summer by swapping out plain ‘ol vanilla for some Clingstone Peach bitters in your next cobbler, or add some zing with notes of cinnamon as found in Lem Marrakech!
And if you’re worried the flavour might be too much for your particular creation, then you can half-and-half it with the any other extract for a delicious fusion of flavours!
Maybe you’re like me, and are never satisfied with a salad dressing. Too sweet, not sweet enough, needs more flavour? Making your own is always the best way, but how can you get it just right?
Bitters are perfect for the Goldilocks of green leaves. You can have the fruit flavour without the sweetness by adding a dash of Autumn Bog Cranberry, or enhance the burst of sweetness in a fruit-infused salad by including a drop of Grapefruit & Hops in your next vinaigrette. Even a plain old fruit salad lends itself well to herbaceous simple syrup featuring a few shakes of Suius Cherry for flavour and balance.
Meats & Marinade
If meat’s your cup of tea, then you’ll be delighted to know that bitters make the perfect prep partner for your next BBQ. Salt and sugar are well and good for marinades, but add a dash of something special in your next sauce with some bitters. Moondog makes the perfect complement with notes of lime leaves, chilies and smoked peppercorns, or go a bit warmer with dark cacao and oak in Malagasy Chocolate. Even a fruity, floral concoction like Grapefruit Hops will add something a little bit different to impress the entire patio party.
Gift this secret culinary weapon to the budding mixologist or foodie in your life with Gift In Time!