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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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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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The ultimate bitters for delicious Pisco sours, Chuncho bitters are made with Peruvian Quina and Sarrapia leaves as well as a variety of barks, roots, flowers, herbs and peels.  More info
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Some very interesting cocktail bitters from Bittermens in America (we probably could say that about everything they come out with), their Hellfire Habanero Shrub Bitters are made with a classic...  More info
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The Bittermens chaps over in the USA were inspired by cream sodas and phosphates you might find in soda shops of old for their Orange Cream Citrate Bitters, which are more intensely sour and sweet...  More info
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Angelica might sound all angelic and whatnot, but don't be fooled - it can be a right bitter bastard too! These cocktail bitters are made with intense angelica root, specially selected spirit...  More info
$15.41
Aromatic, perfumed and altogether awesome Coriander Bitters, for the cocktails that desire intriguing flavours which urge you to take another sip. Rapidly macerated, centrifugally extracted and...  More info
$15.41
Like chefs arm themselves with spices to create masterful meals, bartenders arm themselves with bitters to perfectly season cocktails. The Bitter Bastards Cumin Bitters wouldn't look out of place in...  More info
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Clove is wonderful stuff, whether you're adding it to some mulled wine or picking it out of a whisky's snazzy bouquet, we love this dark spice. How then, to get some of this magic into your cocktails?...  More info
$15.41
Absinthe Bitters
(50cl, 52%)
Absinthe Bitters from The Great Southern Distilling Company down on the Western Coast of Australia. This is made with two different types of wormwood (the herb that imparts absinthe much of its...  More info
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This is a 1980s bottle of the classic Campari Bitter. Due to the maceration, rather than distillation, that takes place in Campari's production, oxidisation takes place in the bottle, which leads to...  More info
$185.90
Now here is something very cool indeed - peach cocktail bitters from the 1960s!  More info
$92.95
This edition of Bitter Bastards single-botanical cocktail bitters is made with the Tuber Uncinatum black truffle, known for its vibrant, powerful hazelnut-like notes. Perfect for the experimental...  More info
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It's clear to see that these Bitter Bastards Crystal Bitters are just the ticket for delicious crystal-clear cocktails made with clear spirits. Though not centrifugally extracted like the other Bitter...  More info
$18.51
Angelica Bitters
(5cl, 75%)
A far cry from the lurid green Glacé Angelica of our youth, these bitters are made with proper, grown-ups' Angelica root.

These Single-Varietal bitters are made using only three ingredients; the...  More info
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Dutch bitters from a recipe developed during the times of the Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie, or Dutch East India Company. Apparently they were often added to flavour geneva.  More info
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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
User Rating:  (7 Reviews)
$35.38
Cinnamon Bitters
(5cl, 51%)
A fabulous, Christmassy spice, Cinnamon lends a superb edge to many different cocktails, especially those using apple.

These Single-Varietal bitters are made using only three ingredients; the...  More info
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
$30.91
This was released in 2009 as a unique addition to the growing Bitters sector. These bitters are superb in cocktails and have a brilliantly sweet and spicy flavour.  More info
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Add an exotic depth and bitterness to your cocktails with these Kola Bitters. Paired with a good rum and maybe some tropical fruits, you'll have yourself a definite winner.

The Bitter Bastards...  More info
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Jerry Thomas was a Professor in the 19th Century, and is considered one of the most important bartenders of his generation. He created extraordinary bitters, upon which The Bitter Truth based these...  More info
With a little help from Neil Ridley from CaskStrength.net, we’ve created Christmas Bitters, based on the gifts lain at the tiny toes of baby Jesus. We’ve concocted the most fabulous festive bitters...  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
Coffee Bitters
(5cl, 40%)
Made using the finest Arabica Coffee beans roasted to a very high (continental) level.

These Single-Varietal bitters are made using only two ingredients; the spirit (Grain Vodka), coffee beans and...  More info
Cardamom Bitters
(5cl, 75%)
One of the real traditional ingredients used in the manufacture of cocktail bitters, Cardamom has long been a barman's best friend.

These Single-Varietal bitters are made using only two...  More info
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