February 24, 2016


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Angostura; invented by Dr. Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert, a German doctor in the mid 1800’s was originally created to stave off dysentery and other debilitating afflictions of the digestive tract. This particular bitters (along with orange bitters) was, and still is, a popular and essential ingredient in classic cocktails, and although Angostura is the grandaddy of bitters, the number of brands now available on the market are overwhelming, with many serious cocktail bars making their own in-house bitters.

An excellent book that should be on every serious bartenders bookshelf is Brad Thomas Parson’s ‘Bitters’ – A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All.

DEMYSTIFYING BITTERS – from Brad Thomas Parson’s definitive book of bitters.

“So what, exactly are bitters? Bitters are an aromatic flavoring agent made from infusing roots, barks, fruit peels, seeds, spices, herbs, flowers, and botanicals in high-proof alcohol (or sometimes glycerin). Long reputed to process medicinal properties, bitters were billed as the cure for whatever ailed you, whether it was a headache, indigestion, stomach cramps, or constipation. Using bitter herbs, barks, and botanicals for medicinal purposes dates back centuries, and versions of some of these potable elixirs are still around today, like herbal liqueur Chartreuse, which was first made in 1737 by Carthusian monks who based their recipe on an ancient elixirs presented to them by Francois Hannibal d’entrees in 1605.”

“Bitters are the ultimate matchmaker: just a dash or two can bring a perfect balance to two seemingly incompatible spirits.”