The Bitter & the Sweet: A Trend in Bitter Cocktails

Craft beers have long been in the spotlight, but craft cocktails are just reaching the peak of their popularity.  Everywhere you turn, it seems there’s a new upscale bar or restaurant offering a unique drink menu that highlights flavorful and somewhat obscure spirits.

And even within the craft cocktail movement, there are trends.  Drinks that incorporate bitters are currently having a major moment, and for good reason.  Read on to learn a bit more about bitters and a few of our favorite drink recipes.

A Bitter Background

Gone is the trend of sweet, light and fruity drinks, which serious mixologists may consider a bit pedestrian.  Adding a dash of bitters immediately elevates a cocktail, infusing it with the complex flavors derived from roots, aromatic herbs, fruits and barks.

There’s a wide range of popular bitters on the market and, of course, many small batch brands as well.  Keep in mind that each one has a dramatically different flavor profile, so if you try one you don’t love, be open to experimenting with others.

Here are a few of our personal recommendations:

  • Fernet Branca Amaro
  • Montenegro Amaro
  • Campari
  • Aperol
  • Peychaud’s Bitters
  • Angostura Bitters
  • Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
  • LilletI

If you’re an amateur mixologist, you’ll have fun inventing your own cocktails that use a bitter you like, but if you’re new to the game, try one of these tried and true recipes:

Aperol Spritz

This is a favorite of happy hour sippers all over Italy – it’s light and refreshing with a bitter citrus edge that keeps it interesting.  And it’s the choice for a sunny afternoon on the porch.

  • 3 parts Prosecco
  • 2 parts Aperol
  • 1 part soda water
  • Add ice cubes & orange slice
  • Enjoy!

Sazerac

A classic New Orleans concoction that’s made a serious comeback, the Sazerac has been a Sazeracbitter-based cocktail since the late 1800s.  The recipe is just a touch fussy, but it’s worth it be loyal to tradition.

  • Fill an Old-fashioned glass with ice to get it nice and frosty.
  • In another Old-fashioned glass, add a sugar cube and 3 drops Peychaud’s Bitters and crush the sugar cube.
  • Add 1.5 ounces Sazerac Rye Whiskey to the glass with the sugar & Peychaud’s.
  • Pour out the ice in the first glass and coat the glass with a bit of Herbsaint.
  • Pour the whiskey/bitters/sugar mix into the frosted glass and garnish with a lemon peel.
  • Enjoy!

Angostura Fizz

Angostura FizzHere’s one for the newcomers to bitters – it’s a bit sweeter than most cocktails that include a bitter liquor, but it still has the unique flavor and an air of the backroom speakeasy.

  • 1 ounce Angostura bitters
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • ¼ ounce grenadine
  • ½ ounce cream
  • Shake all ingredients together along with an egg white until it’s frothy.
  • Top off with seltzer water
  • Enjoy!

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