What are the bitters?
Bitters are spirits flavored with herbs, bark, roots, spices, and fruits. All the bitters are bitter in taste, thus, making them perfect for an aperitif.
There are two types of bitters- flavors and beverage bitters. Flavors are used in minute quantities to flavor cocktails, such as angostura, peach, and orange bitters. Beverages bitters are drunk neat or with ice, water, soda, or tonic water. Among the beverage bitters, Campari is the best known.
Bitters can range from 20 percent to 50 percent alcohol by volume. Since they’re used in such small quantities, they generally do not factor into a drink’s alcohol content.
There are many bitters available in the market. Following are some of the best bitters lists used in cocktails and served as aperitifs.
1. Amer picon
Amer Picon is a French bitter which is pink-red in color having the flavor of quinine, gentian, orange peel, and herbs. It is usually served with soda or water with lemon and ice.
Campari is a red color bitter from Italy having a unique combination of flavors of herbs, spices, orange peel, and quinine. It is an excellent aperitif, served with ice and soda water.
3. Fernet Branca
It is an Italian bitter, flavored with approximately 40 herbs and spices including myrrh, rhubarb, chamomile, cardamom, and saffron in a base of white wine and brandy.
Fernet Branca is taken as aperitif either neat or soda. It is taken as a cure for hangovers. Mint-flavored Fernet Branca is also available in the market which is called Branca Menta.
Cynar is an Italian bitter prepared from artichokes and herbs. It is served with soda water and a twist of lemon or oranges. Cynar is also served with tonic water or orange juice.
Jagermeister is a dark brown bitter from Germany having the flavor of roots. herbs, and spices.
Underberg is a German bitter, having the base of brandy and flavor of herbs. Underberg looks and tastes like iodien. It is available in a single nip portion which is meant for taking as a ‘pick-me-up’ (swallowed in one gulp). It can be taken with soda or ice water.
7. Angostura bitters
Angostura bitters got its name from a town in Venezuela. It is produced from rum in Trinidad. Angostura bitters is brownish-red in color, flavored with gentian, vegetable extracts, and spices. It is often used in the preparation of pink gin and some cocktails as a flavoring agent.
Suze is a bright yellow bitter from France. Flavored with gentian and herbs. It can be drunk neat, with ice, or taken with tonic water or orange juice.
Becherovka is aniseed and cinnamon-flavored bitter, clear, from Czechoslovakia.
Gammeldansk is from Denmark, flavored with roots, berries, and spices.
11. Orange bitters
Orange bitter is a spirit, flavored with orange peels — used in cocktail making.
12. Peach bitters
It is a spirit, flavored with peaches used for flavoring cocktails. Bitters can be served neat, with ice, soda, or tonic water. However, some guests like them with orange juice, cola, cassis, or grenadine syrup.