A Dash A Day: A Guide To Bitters

Ever noticed those tiny, mysterious bottles labeled ‘bitters’ while perusing your local liquor store or out at the bar and wondered, “What even is that?” You could say they are to alcohol what salt and pepper are to food, but there’s a bit more to them than that.

What’s in a name?

Though the name might suggest otherwise, bitters are usually anything but bitter. These liquor-based flavoring agents may come in small bottles but they pack a bold, aromatic punch. These tasty potions are made from infusing a neutral spirit with herbs, spices, and botanicals.

History of Bitters

During the 19th century, these booze enhancers were marketed for medicinal purposes. It was claimed they could cure everything from indigestion to malaria. These dubious medical claims eventually saw bitters transition from the medicine cabinet to the liquor cabinet.

Dashes of Flavor

Because they are so potent and savory, bitters are served in dashes – a measurement difficult to define. The exact amount varies depending on the bottle and bartender but is typically somewhere around 1/5 teaspoon.

The Bitter End

Angostura’s signature aromatic bitters are often used in classic drinks like Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. Craft bitters companies have introduced more adventurous flavor profiles like grapefruit, turmeric, and chocolate. But bitters can do more than just add flavor, they can also be used as garnish (see below!).

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