A bitters is an alcoholic beverage prepared with herbs and citrus dissolved in alcohol or glycerine and having a bitter or bittersweet flavor. There are numerous brands of bitters, which were formerly marketed as patent medicines but are now drunk as digestifs.

Bitters are principally used as digestifs and as flavorings in cocktails. While bitters commonly have an alcoholic strength of up to 45%, they are normally consumed in small amounts, added as a flavoring agent (similar to vanilla flavoring which is also dissolved in alcohol.) In the United Kingdom angostura bitters are not classified as alcoholic beverages due to their bitter taste and can be bought by a person of any age.

Common ingredients in bitters include: angostura bark, cascarilla, cassia, gentian, orange peel, and quinine. The flavor of both Angostura bitters and Peychaud's Bitters derives primarily from gentian, a bitter herb. Bitters are prepared by infusion or distillation, utilizing aromatic herbs, bark, roots, and/or fruit for their flavor and medicinal properties.

Christopher Hobbs LAc, AHG author of "Foundations of Health" lists angelica root (A. archangelica), artichoke leaf (Cynara scolymus), bitter orange peel (Citrus aurantium), blessed thistle leaves (Cnicus bendicutus), gentian root (Gentiana lutea), goldenseal rhizome (Hydrastis canadensis), wormwood leaves (Artemisia absinthium) and yarrow flowers (Achillea millefolium) as typical contents of bitters formulas.

Angostura bitters was first compounded in Venezuela in 1824 by a German physician, who intended it as a remedy for stomach maladies. It was exported to England and to Trinidad, where it came to be used in a number of cocktails, following its medicinal use by the British Royal Navy in Pink Gin. Angostura and similar gentian bitters can be of some value for settling a mild case of nausea. It is used to stimulate the appetite, either for food or for cocktails. Used in both apéritifs and digestifs, it will settle one's stomach before a meal or before a night of drinking.Fact|date=August 2007

Angostura bitters was named after the town of Angostura in Venezuela. It contains no angostura bark, a medicinal bark which is named after the same town.

Used as the "starter" ingredient in a Pink Gin, where a splash (or two) of Angostura Bitters is swirled around the inner surface of a tumbler before adding a generous measure of London Gin. The resulting drink is so named from the colour imparted by the Bitters. In addition to the options of drinking a Pink straight, it may also be consumed with a little water, still or sparkling. Real connoisseurs of the Pink Gin even have preference for drinking it "in" or "out" - referring to whether the remaining dribble of Bitters (after the glass has been "pinked") is left in or poured away, before the Gin is added.Fact|date=August 2007

A large tumbler, similarly "pinked", and filled with sparkling lemonade, results in a drink known as a Campbell. This is regarded by some as a pleasant and refreshing way to relieve a little of the sweetness of lemonade, the same drink with added lime cordial is called "lemon, lime and bitters" in Australia, and is available both as a mixed drink in bars and as a ready-made bottled soft drink. []

Peychaud's Bitters is associated with New Orleans, Louisiana, and the Sazerac cocktail. It, too, is a gentian based bitters, with a subtly different and sweeter taste than the Angostura brand.

Orange bitters are made from the rinds of unripe oranges. Orange bitters is often called for in some older cocktail recipes.

Medicinal quantities of quinine were occasionally used in old cocktail recipes. Quinine is still found in much lower concentrations in tonic water, used today mostly in drinks with gin.

The oldest and rarest of antique bottles command prices of tens of thousands of dollars (see links below).

Types and brands

Bitters still available today include:
*Alpenbitter (from Switzerland)
*Amaro Cora (from Italy)
*Amaro Erbes (from Italy)
*Amaro Jannamico (from Italy)
*Amaro Lucano (similar to Unicum but only 30% alcohol rather than 40% from Italy)
*Amaro Montenegro (from Italy)
*Amer Picon (from France)
*Amaro Quintessentia
*Angostura bitters (from Trinidad and Tobago)
*Angostura Orange Bitters (from Trinidad and Tobago)
*Aperol (orange, less bitter than Campari, from Italy)
*Araucano (From Chile)
*Averna (from Italy)
*Becherovka (from Czech Republic)
*Beerenburg (from the Netherlands)
*Boonekamp's (various brands from the Netherlands, its country of origin, and from Germany)
*Borsci San Marzano
*Cappellano Chinato (from Italy)
*Campari (from Italy)
*Carpano Antica
*Carpano Punt e Mes
*Cio Ciare (from Italy)
*Cocchi Chinato (from Italy)
*Cock Drops (from Cyprus)
*Collins Orange (US)
*Cynar (artichoke based liqueur from Italy)
*Dimitri (from Costa Rica)
*Martini & Rossi ChinaMartini (from Italy)
*Fee Brothers bitters (aromatic, orange, mint, lemon and peach), from Rochester, New York; the aromatic bitters contain Angostura bark
*Echt Stonsdorfer (originally from Silesia now made in Germany, imitations from other German producers available under the name Stonsdorfer)
*Fernet Branca (from Italy)
*Fernet Stock (from the Czech Republic)
*Gammel Dansk (from Denmark)
*Hermes Orange
*Hermes Regular
*Hoppe Orange (from Holland)
*Jägermeister (from Germany)
*Kuemmerling (from Germany)
*Luxardo Amaro
*Luxardo Bitters (somewhat similar to Campari)
*Luxardo Fernet
*Marcarini Chinato
*Mint bitters
*Nardini Amaro
*Nijmeegs Neutje, a kruidenbitter available only in Nijmegen (in the Netherlands)
*Orange bitters
*Par-D-Schatz (from Germany)
*Peach bitters
*Peychaud's Bitters (from Louisiana, United States)
*Pimm's No. 1
*Quinquina (from France, originally from South America)
*Ramazzotti (from Italy)
*Ratzeputz (from Germany)
*Regans' Orange Bitters No.6 (Gary Regan's recipe)
*Riemerschmid Angostra (from Germany)
*Riga Black Balsam (from Latvia)
*Santa Maria al Monte Amaro (from Italy)
*Schrobbeler (From Southern Netherlands )
*St. Vitus (from Germany)
*Sirop de Picon (from France)
*Suze (from France)
*Swedish bitters
*Torani brand Amer
* [ The Bitter Truth] -Aromatic-,Orange-and Lemon Bitters (from Germany)
*Underberg (sometimes sold in health food stores, from Germany)
*Unicum (from Hungary)
*Wurzelpeter and Wurzelpeter Bitter Orange (from Germany)
*Zucco (from Italy)

Other brands/types of bitters have also included:
*Appenzeller (from Switzerland)
*Calisaya bitters (containing cinchona/quinine)
*Hartwig-Kantorowicz (from Germany)
*Hostetter's (American)
*Kabänes (from Germany)
*Kina Lillet
*Maraschino bitters
*Meinhard's Bitters Dr. Teodoro Meinhard's Angostura Bitters (From Venezuela)
*Meyer's Bitter (from Germany)
*Flimm's (from Germany)
*Reichs-Post Bitter (from Germany)
*West Indies
*New York (Australian)
*Boston (Australian)
*St Louis (Australian)
*Frisco (Australian)
*Lupulins (Australian)
*Dr Grants (Australian)
*Philadelphia (Australian)
*Kent (Australian)
*Dixons (Australian)
*Milwaukee (Australian)
*Gippsland (Australian)
*Utica (Australian)
*Steanes (Australian)
*Ralays (Australian)
*Bairnsdale (Australian)
*McDonalds (Australian)

Non-alcoholic Bitters include:
*Fanta Chinotto (made from Chinotto)
*Stirrings Blood Orange
*Bradley's Bitters

ee also

*Flavored liquor

External links

* [ Underberg official site]
* [ Angostura Bitters official site]
* [ Sazerac Co., makers of Peychaud's Bitters]
* [ Fee Brothers, a bitters distributor]
* [ KegWorks, a bitters distributor]
* [,1663,FINE_10176_2389104,00.html The Thirsty Traveler on Bitters]
* [ LeNell's description and tasting notes on a large number of bitters]
* [ Antique bitters bottle website]
* [ The authoritative book on antique bitters bottles]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Bitters — Bit ters, n. pl. A liquor, generally spirituous in which a bitter herb, leaf, or root is steeped. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • bitters — 1713, from BITTER (Cf. bitter). So called for its taste …   Etymology dictionary

  • bitters — [bit′ərz] pl.n. a liquor containing bitter herbs, roots, etc. and usually alcohol, used as a medicine or tonic and as an ingredient in some cocktails …   English World dictionary

  • bitters — /bit euhrz/, n. (used with a pl. v.) 1. a liquid, often an alcoholic liquor, in which bitter herbs or roots have steeped, used as a flavoring, esp. in mixed drinks, or as a tonic. 2. Pharm. a. a liquid, usually alcoholic, impregnated with a… …   Universalium

  • Bitters — Amer (apéritif) Pour les articles homonymes, voir Amer. L amer (appelé aussi amère ou bitter) est une liqueur apéritive fabriquée à partir de l infusion de plantes amères. Certains amers sont des ingrédients dans différents cocktails. Les plantes …   Wikipédia en Français

  • bitters — noun A liquid used in mixed drinks or as a tonic into which bitter herbs have been steeped, (can also be found in powdered form for adding to mixed drinks) …   Wiktionary

  • bitters — 1. An alcoholic liquor in which bitter vegetable substances ( e.g., quinine, gentian) have been steeped. 2. Bitter vegetable drugs ( e.g., quassia, gentian, cinchona), usually used as tonics. SYN: amara. aromatic b. b. with a pleasant …   Medical dictionary

  • Bitters — Bịtters   [englisch], Singular Bịtter der, s, deutsch Bittere, Bitterstoffe enthaltende Spirituosen mit (in Deutschland) mindestens 32 Volumenprozent Alkohol; von appetitanregender und verdauungsfördernder Wirkung …   Universal-Lexikon

  • bitters — bit|ters [ bıtərz ] noun uncount a bitter liquid made from plants or roots that is added to alcoholic drinks to give flavor …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • bitters — n. bitter herb; dark beer bit·ter || bɪtÉ™ n. (British) dark beer, alcoholic beverage; sour quality adj. having an acrid taste …   English contemporary dictionary

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