In the beginning of modern mixology, a cocktail was defined as a mixture of liquor, sugar, water and bitters. Today, bitters may not be required for a cocktail, but they are often the difference between a one-note snooze of a drink and a complex masterpiece.
When to Use Bitters
For Complexity in a Cocktail
Bitters are like spices in cooking. They don’t star in a drink, but instead add spice, nuance and depth of flavor to a cocktail.
As an Aromatic Garnish
While bitters are typically added to the base of a cocktail, you can also top a drink with a dash or two as an imbibable garnish. Some bartenders even create wispy designs with bitters on top of frothy cocktails (think latte art, but boozier).
In Curative Concoctions
Originally, bitters were sold by apothecaries as cures for digestive issues. Today, people still swear by their therapeutic properties. The jury is still on out on whether there is any merit to the myth, but there’s no harm in trying a ginger beer and bitters mocktail the next time you have a tummy ache.