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Bitters

A rather curious drink, primarily used for adding flavour to cocktails, Bitters are a little like the salt and pepper of the cocktail world (as in the condiment and not the hip hop outfit).

Bitters are made with various bitter herbs, barks and other flavourings, with an alcoholic base (often rum). They are not intended for neat consumption, due to their very (and unsurprisingly) bitter flavour, but when added to an Old-Fashioned cocktail, or a Manhattan, they impart all sorts of complexity, bringing maturity and great depth.

Bitters started life, as did many of our favourite drinks, as a medicine. The famous Angostura bitters were created by Dr Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert as a remedy for sea sickness and stomach ailments. The original recipe was named after the town of Angostura in Venezuela (and not after the bark from the tree of the same name – also named after the town).

Exports started to Trinidad (where the Angostura company is now based) and England. The Royal Navy (which was, at the time, an ardent promoter of some of the more beneficial qualities of alcohol) took to adding a few dashing of Angostura bitters to Gin, a concoction known as “Pink Gin”, which was said to placate tummy woes.

The list of ingredients used to make traditional bitters reads a little like a who’s who of archaic remedies: Angostura bark, cassia, gentian, even quinine (the favourite anti-malarial of the old colonists). Bitters are simply made by macerating a bitter agent (often one or more of the above mentioned barks), and a selection of other herbs and spices in strong spirit.

Did you know?... ...In Trinidad and Tobago, Angostura bitters are often added to coffee – well worth trying!

Bitters

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Gammel Dansk is a Danish bitters, and the name literally means "Old Danish". It was first created in 1961 and it is flavoured with herbs and spices including star anise, nutmeg, ginger, laurel...  More info
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Angostura Bitters
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Kamm & Sons excellent Ginseng Spirit has been relaunched as Kamm & Sons British Aperitif - still containing 45 botanicals (such as grapefruit peel, manuka honey, elderflower, juniper berries, fennel...  More info
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Designed to be carried in your hand luggage so never again will you have to cancel a holiday out of fear of not having a decent selection of cocktail bitters. The Bitter Truth has come up with these...  More info
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Campari Bitters
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A 19th century bitters created in Milan by Gaspare Campari. It is made by infusing bitter herbs, plants and fruit in alcohol and water. The result is a rich, complex bitters which works brilliantly in...  More info
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Cinnamon Bitters
(5cl, 51%)
A fabulous, Christmassy spice, Cinnamon lends a superb edge to many different cocktails, especially those using apple.

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Very unusual indeed - Rhubarb bitters. Made by Fee Brothers, they have a complex medicinal, rhubarb flavour with hints of cherry.  More info
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Regans Orange bitters - absolutely magical when used in an old-fashioned. A must-have for anyone making cocktails with any kind of whisky.  More info
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Fabulous orange bitters from the legendary Angostura company, these were first introduced in 2007 and work tremendously well in a variety of rum-based cocktails…  More info
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Get some bouquet in your bouquet, with these Bitter Bastards Lavender Bitters, bringing perfumed intensity to a drink near you! Made with lavender flowers, natural bittering agent (gentian root) and...  More info
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Brian's mother may not have been too enamoured by myrrh, but there's nothing she enjoyed more than a gift of gold or frankincense. Despite being promised as much gold as she could eat by the...  More info
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Bitters are said to be the seasoning of the cocktail world, so naturally there has to be Bitter Bastards Black Pepper Bitters (just don't go looking for salt bitters to go on your fish and...  More info
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These chipotle bitters are made with delicious smoke-dried jalapeño peppers, gentian root and specially selected spirit. The yummy, highly-desirable flavours gained through rapid-maceration are then...  More info
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Superb chocolate bitters from top Austrian-based, chocolate-drink-producers Mozart. These are created by macerating top quality cocoa in sugar cane spirit, to which spices are added. Great in a...  More info
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Say you've got a cocktail, but you feel it's lacking some 'shazam' or 'ka-pow' or another onomatopoeic word to suggest excitement. What's the remedy for this lack of 'ta-daa'? Bitters. Perhaps...  More info
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These excellent grapefruit bitters from Fee Brothers work really well in cocktails with a tangy citrus element. They add a little extra spice and depth. Try them in your next Margarita or Sour…  More info
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These Bitter Bastards Sour Cherry Bitters have been made using cherries (obviously), a carefully selected spirit, well-measured amounts of bittering agent (gentian root), rapid-maceration and...  More info
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Made using the classic black truffle (Tuber Melanosporum), the second most valuable species of truffle in the world, these cocktail bitters from Bitter Bastards bring some refined mushroomy-umami...  More info
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Underberg 3x2cl
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Underberg is a brilliant digestif bitter drink made with aromatic herbs from 43 different countries. It is matured in Slovenian oak barrels for several months and is typically enjoyed as a digestive...  More info
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These were created in 1828 by John G Boker. They became very popular in New York and they were synonymous with the "golden age" of cocktail making. They were used throughout Jerry Thomas's book "How...  More info
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Stunning Cherry bitters from Fee Brothers. A classic ingredient in pre-Prohibition era cocktail making. These work fantastically with whiskey cocktails…  More info
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These Bittermens Grapefruit Bitters are excellent in drinks made with gin or other clear spirits. These are great in summertime favourites like a Daiquiri or a Gin and Tonic.  More info
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Now where would an Old-Fashioned, or a Manhattan be without some decent Orange bitters. These are made by Fee Brothers using West Indian oranges.  More info
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Made with the finest roasted arabica coffee beans, these exceptional bitters will give a hit of Columbia's finest to your cocktail creations! Like the rest of the extensive Bitter Bastards range, only...  More info
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