Bitters. That small bottle with several dozen ingredients and enough flavor that just a few dashes can knock over any palate. Bitters were first created in the early- and mid-19th century for medicinal purposes. They tend to include herbal and natural ingredients like orange peel, cinchona bark, cassia, gentian, and other exotic flavors.
Today, there are several manufacturers of bitters, but many of the older ones are still the most popular. Many drink recipes, in fact, call for very specific brands of bitters. The reason is that every manufacturer’s concoction is a distinct, proprietary mixture – a protected trade secret.
While bitters do have ~ 45% alcohol volume, this fact isn’t going to make a difference in the ABV of your drink recipes. The typical drink recipe, if it calls for bitters, only requires 1-3 dashes. Under normal use, a bottle of bitters might last you several years, which causes many people to ask, “Do bitters ever go bad?”
Because of the high ABV, bitters don’t technically expire. However, you might notice after a few years that your bottle of bitters tastes somewhat bland compared to when you first opened it. After all, when you expose herbs, bark, fruit, and other natural beverage ingredients to air for an extended period, it’s not surprising that they lose some of their flavor.
What Drinks Can I Use Bitters In?
Plenty of drink recipes! Here are some of the more popular drink recipes we’ve published this year that contain bitters. Some of these cocktails are our own creation, while others are well over a century old.
- The Old Fashioned is the classic whiskey and bitters cocktail. The only other things you need are simple syrup (or a sugar cube), a maraschino cherry, and an orange slice.
- The Manhattan is another classic drink recipe for which bitters are essential.
- The Sazerac: We like to think of this drink as the Manhattan’s brother.
- The Little Italy Fire is one of our most creative drink recipes yet. Be generous with your bitters in this cocktail!
- Amoretti Whiskey Ginger is similar to the Little Italy Fire, but less complicated.
- The Bridal Martini is a good example of a non-whiskey cocktail with bitters.
- The Amoretti Peach Old Fashioned is perfect for when you don’t have many ingredients in the liquor cabinet. Just make sure you have a bottle of Amoretti Premium Peach Syrup on hand!