The Bitter Truth…

July 10, 2009

The recent, well, relatively, recent launch of The Bitter Truth range of aromatic and flavoured bitters inspired me to start looking into the varied ranges of bitters out there on the market. And it led to my swift realization that I was only acquainted with a fraction of what was available.

So here lies my findings, a quick perusal through their history. Got to love the pre-prohibition stories you find our there!

Bitters originally started out as medicinal aids, sold in pharmacies and health stores for the curing of many varied ailments. Tradtionally served in brandy, Angostura bitters were (and still to this day) used to settle an upset stomach or indegestion.

Their popularity however was swiftly culled with the introduction of the Pure Food & Health Act in 1906, regulating the selling of any “Medicines” that could be detrimonous to your health. Obviously the alcoholic nature and serving of such bitter concoctions was classified as such and thereforth their decline began.

Rediscovered many years later these bitters swiftly worked their way back into the build of many a classic cocktail. Their herbal undertones imparting a light undernote to otherwise harsh and cloying drinks.

These bitters, starting with only a few available, have erupted of late onto the market. With the introduction on orange bitters only a few years ago opening up whole realms of drink options, brands have swiftly released concoction after concoction to the on-trade.

I need not list all the available but my personal favourite of late is the Fee Brothers Mint bitters. Imparting a delightfully subtle undertone of freshly picked mint along with light earthy notes, it can transform a so-so cocktail into a true delight.

Useful reading here and here.


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