The Bitter Truth

Bitters: the wonder-cure for ailments of all kinds, and nowadays the magic ingredients behind world-class cocktails. But how on earth are they made? 3 things:

  • Something bitter, like gentian (a plant), quassia (another plant) or wormwood (yet another plant).
  • Something flavoursome, and this could be anything — orange, cherry, chocolate, celery, lemongrass, tea, you name it.
  • A solution to mix the above, ideally alcoholic (while not strictly necessary, it allows the final product to last more than a few days).

To make it, many people recommend simply throwing the above in a jar and waiting days or months until it’s ready to rumble. But there’s a problem: different ingredients release flavours at different speeds, and you have no control over the final product. So ideally you should put each ingredient in a separate solution for a given period of time, then you can mix and match however you like.