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A Layman's Introduction to Cocktail Bitters

Part of Cocktail 101, Home Bar, Liquor & Spirits

Words by Eric Azran, .


I think it's safe to say that we all know what bitters are, but have you ever tried to explain bitters to a friend who is a cocktail newbie? Turns out, we certainly know about them, but less so when it comes to the actual definition and rich history. Let's take a moment to get reacquainted with the bar essential, and its nearly-infinite varieties. 

The first clue should come from the shelf you'll find a bottle of bitters on in a traditional grocery store or butcher shop (or anywhere else that isn't a cocktail store). They're usually found near the spices or flavouring agents because they have a rich history in the culinary world; in fact, while being upwards of 50% alcoholic, they can be purchased in regular stores because they are a cooking ingredient. With that in mind, let's imagine a bartender's bitters  as the equivalent of a chef's spice rack: tasy, aromatic, and complex. 

A Quick Definition

Bitters Answer A Simple Question

They are not the question itself! You can always ask yourself, "what does this drink need?" and often bitters will be the answer. They a

 

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