Forgive my french, but Bitters are to mixology what the 11 herbs and spices are to KFC chicken. If you think about it for a moment it is the perfect example. It is that extra ingredient(s) that tie the whole thing together and set it apart from the rest. Now a days a days with the rebirth of Craft Cocktails and all things artisanal countless different very fine bitters have appeared in the market. Bitters like, violet, coffee, orange, tangerine, peppermint, beef jerky, the list is endless. With some very basic guidelines and ingredients one of them being bitters, you could create literally thousands of combinations.
Lets use the Old Fashioned for illustrative purposes, which is probably the best cocktail to fully understand the role and importance of bitters in Mixology and Craft Cocktails.
2 oz. spirit
1/4 oz. rich simple syrup or a sugar cube
2 dashes bitters
fruit for garnish
Just like in fine cuisine cocktails are all about balance. That is what mixologists and Chefs spend a great deal of their time doing, finding balance in their creations, so all the ingredients work in harmony instead of battling each other. Going back to the Old Fashioned example, you can play around with this equation and be amazed of the things you can come up with. For example
The list of variation then increases exponential if you add all other possible cocktail variations. But as with all crafts, sometimes simple is best.
There are three bitters you might consider having in your arsenal: aromatic bitters (angostura), orange bitters (goes with gin) and Peychaud’s (great with scotch).
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