Aromatic Bitters, Explained

Aromatic Bitters, Explained

What are aromatic bitters? You might be familiar with Angostura bitters or Peychaud’s. These are considered aromatic bitters and similar to The Bitter Housewife Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters. Traditionally, bitters came in brown bottles, wrapped in paper or apothecary-style branding. You’ve probably seen them quickly and methodically dashed into your cocktail at the bar. Bitters with a similar flavor profile, lots of baking spices with cherries or nuts, are considered aromatic bitters.

At The Bitter Housewife, our Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters is our own take on these classic bitters and our signature flavor. They were designed specifically to enhance an Old Fashioned, our founder’s favorite cocktail, with the flavors of dried cherries, ginger, and warm baking spices, plus just enough bitterness to keep things interesting. These bitters also work great in a Manhattan, a Dark and Stormy, or anywhere you would normally use Angostura. There are a few more recipe ideas at the bottom of this piece.

While aromatic bitters might get the most attention, we have an extensive collection of flavors that show you just how versatile bitters can be. Check out our cardamom or coriander and lime bitters. We use real ingredients in all of our products and we most importantly craft them around the prominent flavor. For example, we don’t just take our aromatic bitters and add orange flavor to make it our orange bitters. We instead create a different base for each key flavor and then incorporate traditional bitters ingredients to complement and enhance our bitters’ flavors. 

For our aromatic bitters, we use many of the traditional ingredients in bitters, but add our own twist. 

What are the key ingredients in our aromatic bitters?

  • Dried Bing Cherries
  • Fresh Ginger
  • Cinnamon
  • Nutmeg
  • Quassia
  • Walnut Leaf
  • Wild Cherry Bark
  • Sarsaparilla
  • Grains of Paradise
  • Allspice
  • Cassia
  • Gentian
  • Cloves

A few of the ingredients on this list might be new to you. Check out our blog post on the ingredients in bitters, which dives deep into the history of and reasons for using these ingredients. But we can give you the cliff notes version here. Many of the ingredients in bitters have been chosen not only for their bitter flavor, but also for their perceived medicinal benefits. 

Traditional aromatic bitters were often used in the early 1800s for its medicinal qualities to help with malaria, stomach aches, and other ailments. Angostura was created by a German doctor and Peychaud’s was created by a pharmacist. Many of the ingredients that make up a bitters do have health benefits, but for the most part, as the popularity of cocktails rose, bitters transitioned from an herbal medicinal to an integral element of every cocktail. We view bitters as a “spice rack” for your drink. They bring balance and interest to a cocktail.

The recipe for aromatic bitters is highly guarded by some, but in the spirit of transparency, we believe in sharing all the ingredients that go into aromatic bitters instead of just “herbs and spices”. We include a few flavors that create the quintessential bitter taste of aromatic bitters; gentian, quassia, and wild cherry bark. But we also add a few non-traditional ingredients to our aromatic bitters to enhance the flavor; fresh ginger, cinnamon, grains of paradise, and nutmeg. People often say it smells like Christmas.

Our aromatic bitters can be used in any of the same ways you would traditionally use Angostura or Peychaud’s, however, we recommend a few more dashes than just one or two with our bitters. While bitter tinctures are highly concentrated, you can add up to four to six dashes of the Bitter Housewife bitters in your cocktails or soda water because we’ve crafted them to blend seamlessly into your drinks. 

These are a few of our favorite recipes for aromatic bitters:

The Old Fashioned Bitter Housewife

Muddle the orange, cherry, bitters, and syrup in an old-fashioned glass. Pour in bourbon, add ice, stir to chill and top with soda.

Americano

Pour Campari, vermouth, and bitters into a collins glass over ice. Top with soda, give a gentle stir and garnish with an orange or lemon slice.

The Bitter Housewife in Manhattan

Pour the bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters into a chilled glass with ice. Stir until well-chilled and sufficiently incorporated. Strain over a coupe glass and garnish with a brandied cherry and imagine yourself in a cozy, dark Manhattan bar listening to live jazz. 

We all need a bottle of aromatic bitters in our kitchen. And the great thing about bitters? Bitters don't go bad! It’s got an infinite shelf life like much of the spirits in your liquor cabinet. The taste might change over time, but our aromatic bitters are ageless. And that’s not just in shelf life, aromatic bitters is a versatile addition to any cocktail and can be used in a multitude of recipes or to simply spice up a refreshing glass of soda water. Purchase a bottle of The Bitter Housewife’s aromatic bitters for your home bar,here.

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