The Mixology Talk Podcast, Episode Twenty One

What’s a common cocktail ingredient that you probably shouldn’t drink on it’s own?  This week we’re talking about Bitters!

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In today’s Episode, we’re talking about Cocktail Bitters

A few weeks ago, we got a request for an episode about Cocktail bitters.  So here we go!

What are Bitters?

Cocktail Bitters are a highly concentrated alcohol infusion and is typically made with botanicals, herbs, spices and always with some kind of bittering agent.

The Two Types of Bitters:

1. Potable

Bitters that you’d commonly drink by itself. Examples of potable bitters are Vermouth, Campari, Gran Classico and Fernet.  Almost all Amari have some bitterness to them, and can be part of this type of bitters.

2. Non-Potable

These are not generally consumed alone – and these are generally what people are referring to when they mention “Bitters” in a cocktail recipe.  The most common types of these bitters are Angostura and Peychaud’s, but there are dozens of bitters companies and hundreds of kinds in the market.

A Brief History:

Bitters were originally considered to be medicinal, but by the 19th century the term “Cocktail” had appeared – referring to a drink made with spirits, sugar, water and bitters.  As a result, some companies producing bitters were protected from prohibition as they are considered medicinal and not beverages.  Even today,
bitters are not classified as alcoholic beverages, which is why you can find them in stores that can’t sell liquor.

Bitters & Cocktails

Bitters are often called a Bartenders “Spice cabinet” or “Salt”, because just like spices add flavor and depth to food, bitters do the same for cocktails.  So if you make a drink that needs a little bit more flavor (especially when using egg whites), bitters can be a great option.  Bitters are also a good way to offset sweetness in drinks, as the dry medicinal flavor in the bitters can counteract the syrupy nature of sweetness as well.

How are they made?

Bitters are literally just highly infused herbs, botanicals and bittering agents in a spirit base.  That means they are made in the same way as you’d make any alcohol infusion – except that they are typically left longer or created with a much higher concentration of the flavoring ingredients.

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Thanks for Listening!

That’s a wrap! What are your favorite bitters to use in cocktails? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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