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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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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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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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Tuber Aestivum, or the Summer Truffle, is in fact the same species as the Burgundy Truffle (Tuber Uncinatum), but they are grown in the Mediterranean warmth of southern France, Spain and Italy and are...  More info
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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Aromatic bitters, made by The Bitter Truth, in 15cl bottles. For when you aren't planning to make loads of cocktails, but still want them to have a some spicy complexity.  More info
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Coriander Bitters
(5cl, 75%)
When Macerated in the high-proof rum used to extract the flavour, Coriander seeds take on an ethereal, slightly perfumed note.

These Single-Varietal bitters are made using only three ingredients;...  More info
Made in New York by the Bittermens company, Elemakule Tiki Bitters are produced in very small batches. These are flavoured with cinnamon and allspice as well as spices from Polynesia and the...  More info
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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
Casque Orange Bitters
(1cl, 14.30%)
These Orange Bitters are thought to originate from the 1970s, although no definitive record of their production, ingredients or method of manufacture can be found, consequently no warranty as to the...  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
Campari 1l - 1980s
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This bottling of Campari comes from the 1980s, from the era of Fellini's 'woman in red' advert with Kelly Le Brock.  More info
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Xocolatl Mole Bitters are superb bitter chocolate bitters that work wonders in drinks made with vermouth or rich whisky.  More info
Campari 25% - 1970s
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A 1970s bottle of Campari Bitters, perfect for a Negroni that isn't a roast beef sandwich (check out this edition of Master of Cocktails to pick up what I'm putting down with that statement)...  More info
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Produced in Germany by The Bitter Truth, these delicious bitters are flavoured with peach. The result is the perfect addition to a variety of fruity cocktails.  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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This is the second batch of our delicious cask-aged Whisky Bitters. These were aged in a fresh Kentucky oak cask, and the results are spicy and full-bodied cocktail bitters which work well in all...  More info
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
Liquorice Bitters
(5cl, 51%)
Made using Liquorice root, these bitters reflect the true and unadulterated flavour of the liquorice plant.

These Single-Varietal bitters are made using only three ingredients; the spirit...  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
User Rating:  (2 Reviews)
Cocoa Bitters
(5cl, 40%)
Cocoa, Cacao, Xocolatl, Chucklit - call it what you will…

These Single-Varietal bitters are made using only two ingredients; the spirit (Grain Vodka), cocoa and natural bittering agents.

Cocoa...  More info
Bitter Bastards cocktail bitters made with Tuber Borchii or 'bianchetto' truffles! Known for their slight garlicky note alongside all the earthy, perfumed goodness you'd expect, these gorgeous...  More info
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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
Ginger Bitters
(5cl, 75%)
Made using ginger root – these superb bitters add a spicy warmth and intensity to all manner of cocktails.These Single-Varietal bitters are made using only three ingredients; the spirit (High-proof...  More info
These are our very own bitters. These are made with fine herbs, spices and fruits including fresh vanilla pods, cinnamon, cloves and two kinds of orange peel.

The ingredients are individually...  More info
Made using the finest Spanish Orange peel, these Sweet Orange bitters add zestiness to any cocktail. Particularly good in Bourbon-based drinks.

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