Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All by Brad Thomas Parsons

By Brad Thomas Parsons

Long gone are the times while a lonely bottle of Angostura bitters held courtroom at the back of the bar. A cocktail renaissance has swept around the nation, inspiring in bartenders and their thirsty buyers a brand new fascination with the parts, strategies, and traditions that make the yank cocktail so targeted. And few components have as wealthy a background or function primary a task in our beverage historical past as bitters.

Author and bitters fanatic Brad Thomas Parsons strains the background of the world’s such a lot storied elixir, from its earliest “snake oil” days to its close to evaporation after Prohibition to its ascension as a cherished (and every now and then obsessed-over) element at the modern bar scene. Parsons writes from front traces of the bitters increase, the place he has entry to the easiest and boldest new manufacturers and flavors, the main leading edge artisanal manufacturers, and insider wisdom of the bitters-making process.

Whether you’re a qualified trying to take your video game to the subsequent point or simply a DIY-type attracted to home made potables, Bitters has a dozen recipes for custom designed blends--ranging from Apple to Coffee-Pecan to Root Beer bitters--as good as pointers on sourcing elements and step by step directions healthy for beginner and professional meals crafters alike.

Also featured are greater than seventy cocktail recipes that show off bitters’ variety and flexibility: classics just like the big apple (if you ever get one with no bitters, ship it back), old-guard favorites just like the Martinez, modern beverages from Parsons’s personal repertoire just like the Shady Lane, plus different libations from the country’s such a lot pioneering bartenders. final yet no longer least, there's a complete bankruptcy on cooking with bitters, with a dozen recipes for candy and savory bitters-infused dishes.

Part recipe publication, half venture consultant, half barman’s manifesto, Bitters is a party of excellent cocktails made good, and of the once-forgotten yet blessedly rediscovered virtues of bitters.

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Although this is understandable—tasted by themselves, bitters often taste slightly bitter or bittersweet—the term “bitters” refers not to a specific flavor but rather to the category of aromatic solutions made with bittering agents such as gentian root and cinchona bark. Bitters are essentially a liquid seasoning agent for drinks and even food, and their frequent description as a bartender’s salt and pepper hits close to the mark. Make two Manhattans—one with rye, sweet vermouth, and Angostura bitters, and one without the bitters—and taste them side by side.

The tongue’s taste buds allow humans to discern five distinct flavors: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory (or umami). Humans and many animals are hardwired to be averse to bitter flavors, since they’re a warning signal that what you’re about to ingest might be toxic. But bitterness can also be alluring, especially when it’s delivered through coffee, chocolate, eggplant, grapefruit, hops, artichokes, and naturally bitter herbs and lettuces. ” One of the biggest misconceptions about bitters is that using them will make your drink bitter.

Seattle bartender and bitters aficionado Jamie Boudreau maintains, “If I ever feel that a cocktail is flat or missing something, the answer is almost always bitters. ” A. J. Rathbun, who has authored a number of cocktail books, including Good Spirits and Luscious Liqueurs, offers his spin on what bitters do for a drink: “I like to think that different bitters might serve different functions, depending on herbal notes and character and personality and how well they stand out in the mix versus using their powers to alter other flavors.

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