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Bitters Ingredients

Bitters are made up of three basic components; the bittering agent, the flavor and the liquor element. The ingredients individually release flavors that combine together to create bitters that taste exceptional in cocktails.
Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Aromatic Bitters Fee Brothers Rhubarb Bitters Angostura Orange Bitters
Regans' Orange Bitters Peychaud's Aromatic Bitters Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters
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Cocktail Bitters Ingredients

Common ingredients in bitters include aromatic herbs, bark, roots, fruit and sometimes alcohol. Specific popular ingredients include angostura bark, orange peel, quinine, cassia, gentian and cascarilla.

The Bittering Agent

These are the herbal components that give bitters a bitter flavor. These herbal ingredients include gentian, quassia wood, mint thistle seed, lavender, barberry root bark, birch leaf and dandelion leaf. A small amount of each is very bitter and will go a long way. You can also use thin outer peels of lemons, oranges, grapefruits, whole dried apples or apple skins. These too will give additional bitterness and flavor. Dried roses or other edible flowers are also good in recipes for classic bitters.

The Flavor Components

Bitters usually will have one flavor, such as aromatic, cherry, grapefruit, lemon, mint, orange, peach or rhubarb. It is recommended to stick to only one or two flavors of bitters per cocktail, however you can be creative and make a unique mixture. There are also some spices that will add depth to your bitters. A few include cinnamon, anise, cloves, juniper berries and black peppercorns.

The Liquor Components

Bitters are usually preserved in alcohol, however you can make non-alcoholic bitters. KegWorks sells both alcoholic and non-alcoholic bitters. Higher proof alcohols can bring out more flavors. You can choose liquors that are high proof and low cost. Since only a few drops of bitters are used in cocktails, it’s better to use higher proof liquors when creating your own bitters. The higher the proof the longer the shelf life and it may result in extracting more flavors during the infusion process. Some alcohol options and suggestions that are good to use are gin, vodka, brandy or whiskey. Some high proof brands include Everclear, Gosling’s 151-Proof Black Seal Rum and Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey.
Plum Blossom
1 1/4 oz Tombo shochu
3/4 oz Choya plum wine
1/2 oz fresh lemon juice
1/2 oz pineapple juice
1/4 oz St. Germain
1 tsp. maraschino liqueur
Splash cranberry juice
1 lemon twist, for garnish
Shake all ingredients and then strain into a chilled martini glass with ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
 
Greenbriar
1 oz dry vermouth
2 oz sherry
1 mint sprig, for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake into an ice filled martini glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.
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