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
- Peychaud’s Bitters
- Angostura Bitters
- Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6
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:
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
A classic New Orleans concoction that’s made a serious comeback, the Sazerac has been a bitter-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.
- 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
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