cocktail bitters

Author Alex Truman runs, an online spirits and liqueurs retailer specializing in absinthes, bitters and digestifs.

As you may know, bitters are essences of powerful flavors that are used to enhance cocktails and, sometimes, to season food. As bitters continue to gain more prominence in bars around the world, we’re able to experience flavors and combinations we never thought were possible. Exciting times.

The never-ending creativity of bitters producers has allowed for some fantastic creations with varying ingredients and flavors. The vast amount of ingredients used in bitters makes them hard to identify, however the majority of them will have one predominant flavor. The most popular bitters are herbal and aromatic bitters and orange bitters. Others, like celery and lemon bitters, are fairly well known and produced by many different brands.

But what about the others? The bitters beyond aromatic and orange and celery? Like, say, liquorice bitters.

Bob’s Bitters produces an aromatic liquorice bitters, which sports a bitter-sweet taste along with light woody notes. The ABV is a manageable 20 percent, and the bottle comes with a pipette top, so you can add small doses to your drinks.

The liquorice profile pairs favorably with many different spirits, including rum, whiskey and gin. One lovely recipe that you may wish to try at home is the Martini L’Autentico, a recipe adapted from Ago Perrone of The Connaught hotel in London.

Martini L’Autentico

1 oz Bols Genever
1/3 oz Galliano L’Autentico
1/2 oz Tio Pepe Dry Sherry
1/2 tsp Liquorice Bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice until cold, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon peel.

Another unique flavor, (offered by Bob’s Bitters as well as Scrappy’s Bitters), is Cardamom. These bitters will provide a sweet, spicy and citrusy addition to cocktails and long drinks. This is an extremely powerful bitters, but if used with discretion it can produce some great results.

It starts off sweet before moving to spice and citrus notes that provide a welcome kick. The Cardamom bitters complement other bitters too, and can be used simply to add further dynamics to any drink. One popular cocktail that makes good use of Cardamom is this variation of the classic Bourbon Crusta:

Bourbon Crusta

2 oz Bourbon
½ oz Triple Sec
½ oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
1 dash Cardamom Bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice until cold, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a thick swath of lemon peel.

And for anyone in the market for bacon bitters, the guys at Bitters Tears have something for you. It’s called Ms. Piggy Peppercorn Bacon Bitters. It’s smoky with a kick of peppercorn and Serrano chile, and it works surprisingly well when dashed into your lager or pilsner.

No Comments

  • Alex Truman says:

    Hi Todd,

    Totally agree, bitters are an awesome way of experimenting with drinks, and with so many flavors it’s almost never ending!

    The liquorice bitters are a great way to add a bitter-sweet taste, the touch of anise also gives it that slightly minty flavor.

  • I love Scrappy’s Cardamom bitters!! Never had the liquorice bitters before, but it seems like the perfect combo. One thing’s for sure – you can never have enough bitters on the shelf!

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