What are cocktail bitters? The concept behind a cocktail bitter is fairly straight forward: concentrate the flavors of a bitter agent (like herbs, roots, barks) along side an aromatic agent like lavender, citrus, other fruits and berries.
Cocktail bitters are the salt and pepper of your cocktails, would you grill up a steak or a pile of veggies without a little salt or pepper to draw out the flavors? Probably not, but you might. However, it’s hard to argue the taste difference between a properly spiced meal and a bland alternative. So why are you leaving your cocktails unspiced?
If you’ve been to a great bar and had a fantastic cocktail the chances are pretty good they added cocktail bitters to make it their own personal “signature drink.” Of course, if you’re drinking a classic beverage like a Sazerac or an Old Fashioned, you’ve probably already encountered a few bitters in your travels.
Cocktail bitters enhance great drinks, elevate standard drinks, and can be used to fix an unbalanced hollow drinking experience (sometimes). Find a drink with a great start and finish but is missing the middle? Or a drink that works well but falls flat in the finish? A bitter can tie those pieces together and make a full joy experience.
What is a tincture?
We tend to lump them all together here at AwesomeDrinks, but a tincture is more of a single unified flavor. As an example, Firewater Tincture or Serrano Cocktail Spice will bring heat to your beverage because they’re infused heat from peppers, but they don’t bring a bitter herb or root like gentian, wormwood, or cherry bark. A single focused infusion would be a tincture (vanilla extract is a popular example), but a “blend” of herb and spices brings you the traditional cocktail bitter as it’s used in many classics.
When to use cocktail bitters?
Spoiler alert: as much as you can. You’ll find that a standard 5 oz bottle of cocktail bitters will create about 50 cocktails, so don’t worry about running out anytime soon. We understand some of these more rare hand crafted bitters can cost upwards of $22 but you’ll be able to craft a great deal of drinks.
Over time you can purchase and explore other flavor profiles within the variety of bitter brands. You’ll have a nice bank of aromatic flavors you can add to your cocktail designs or enhance other classic designs. Lavender bitters in champagne, cherry bark vanilla bitters in diet coke, grapefruit bitters in ginger ale or cookies, the combination of uses can go a long way.
Try to get creative, pair up a new bitter with an old drink and see what it does to the tasting experience.