Cocktail Making & Wine Classes

Bitters 101

Bitters 101

By on Jun 18, 2015 in News

When one uses the word “bitter”, it is often used to describe a state of anger, resentment, or hurt feelings, something acrid or unpleasant. However, in the world of cocktails, “bitters” is a necessary part of any well stocked bar. Imagine your kitchen cabinets devoid of spices that add flavor to your signature dishes and baked goods. Without vanilla extract, cinnamon, black pepper, garlic powder, oregano, rosemary, salt, most of what our palates come to expect when we sit down to enjoy our meals would be bland and flavorless. Usually, most recipes only require a dash or a pinch of a certain flavor-enhancing additive to give the finished product that special kick. This is where bitters comes in, when the discerning bartender wants to add that particular hint of something special to a cocktail to make the customers mouth water and come back for more.

Historically, bitters was created as a tincture and diuretic by early 19th century pharmacologists to rid the body of toxins, using particular botanicals such as bark, fruit peels, flowers, herbs, and seeds. These concoctions were not designed to be consumed outright, rather mixed into a beverage to cure what ails you. Over time, the science behind creating these extracts was refined and specialized, with today’s market dominated by leading brands such as Angostura and Peychaud’s, while independent manufacturers continue to rise in the liquor industry specializing in unique blends and flavors that are bound to enhance your cocktail experience. When you feel like something is missing to your drink of choice, give it a dash of bitters to delight your senses as it can add aroma and ambience, stimulating not only your taste buds, but your olfactory as well. Consider bitters a bit of aromatherapy to add to your stress reducing tonic or nightcap.

Do yourself a favor and research what this historically essential cocktail ingredient can do for your next party, or ask your favorite bartender. Experiment first, for there are a myriad of options available for a wide range of tastes from spicy to herbal to citrus, and it can even be used for cooking! As with any experimentation, the fun is in the creation and satisfaction of knowing it came out just right. Bottoms up!


Sign up for a class to learn more about bitters and how it tastes in cocktails. Click HERE for our classes.



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Jared Edman

Jared Edman has an Associate of Arts Degree in Speech Communication from San Antonio College, and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Communication at the University of Texas - San Antonio. He is an active poet, placing first in the 30-60 year old category at the La Voz citywide poetry contest in 2014 sponsored by Gemini Ink, and was recently featured at Lanier High School’s 2015 Poetry Slam. As a presenter, he has taught a Nonverbal Communication Workshop and read his work at the 20th Annual Multicultural Conference at San Antonio College. He also developed and taught a Student Engagement class for the Young Leaders Conference at Palo Alto College. His public relations work has helped advance the careers of several local musicians and artists, and his creative, research, and technical writing has garnered numerous awards locally, most notably from the San Antonio Association of Hispanic Journalists.

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