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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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Perfectly crafted orange bitters, these Orange Bitters from Bitter Truth are essential in a good Old Fashioned Cocktail. Loads of zesty, spicy flavour!  More info
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Classically styled old fashioned bitters from Fee Brothers. These work wonders in a Planter's Punch, a Singapore Sling or a Manhattan.  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 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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Fantastic spicy, rich tasting bitters from Fee Brothers. This are the crème de la crème from their range, bottled once yearly in the Spring. They aged this in fresh Tennessee whiskey barrels.  More info
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Angelica Bitters
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These spicy bitters are aptly named - they are spicy, sweet and tart - truly burlesque! They were work well in cocktails featuring Amari, Gin, Tequila or Rum and are made using hibiscus, açai berry...  More info
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Fee Brothers Cranberry Bitters does exactly what it says on the tin (or bottle, in this case) - tastes like cranberry with a good helping of bitterness. Sure, you could add it to a Cosmopolitan for an...  More info
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