I often hear from customers that they’re afraid to use bitters because they don’t want to use too much. Or that they’ve tried making drinks at home and they never turn out well.
I’m here to tell you that anyone can make a great drink at home and bitters are nothing to be afraid of (especially ours) if you keep just a few simple concepts in mind.
A great drink is one you enjoy.
If you’ve made drinks at home in the past by following a recipe and you didn’t love them, it's most likely one of two reasons. Either the drink just wasn’t your thing or it wasn’t balanced for your palate.
Not everyone likes St. Germain, or whiskey, or grapefruit juice and that’s cool. I really dislike anything with rose or lavender in it, but other people love it. I also wouldn’t have known I didn’t like those things if I didn’t try it at least once or twice. Sometimes you have to push the boundaries to know what works for you and it’s totally ok to say no to that flavor that everyone seems to love. You be you.
It’s also about knowing whether you like sweet things or not so sweet or more sour. Whatever, they are your tastebuds and it’s totally ok to put a little more sugar in your drink so that you like it. My husband and I both love Old Fashioneds and generally agree on what makes a good one, but Dan prefers just a touch more sugar in his than I do. Knowing this means we both get a drink we love.
Cocktails are all about balance.
A great cocktail is a balance of strong (alcohol), sweet (sugar, liqueur, syrup, or fruit juice), sour (citrus juice, vinegar or shrub, or even just that twist of lemon to finish), and bitter (bitters, bitter liqueur, bitter fruit, or tonic water). And yes, sometimes one ingredient serves two purposes like sweet and bitter at the same time.
Finding the balance in a cocktail isn’t about relying on a perfect formula, it's about understanding your ingredients and your palate to find what works best for you. If you make a drink at home that you’re pretty sure you’re going to like, but something just isn’t right it’s most likely that something is out of balance. Maybe the drink is just too strong and you need to water it down with a bit more ice. Or it could be too sweet and an extra dash of bitters will make it perfect. Or it’s not sweet enough and you need a touch more sugar. Or you may find that a squeeze of lemon or even orange brings everything together perfectly.
Think of the recipe as a starting point. You probably wouldn’t hesitate to add more pepper or garlic to a recipe if you know that’s what you like. Don’t be afraid to adjust your cocktail recipes too.
Bitters are the spice rack that brings all the flavors together.
Bitter gets a bad rap as a flavor, but a little bitter can do amazing things to both drinks and food. Bitters can bring out subtle flavors, they balance out both sweet and sour, and they simply make things more interesting. You can dive deeper into what bitters are here.
While bitter can be an overpowering flavor, our bitters are made to blend into your cocktail seamlessly. You’ll have to really try to “ruin” a cocktail with our bitters. I’m talking like 10 dashes or more. But if you’re still a little unsure, start with 2-3 dashes and taste, then add another 1-2 dashes and taste again. Not only will you see how they can change the cocktail, you’ll pretty quickly know if you’re more the 4-5 dash type person or 7-8 dash type person.
Bitter is also a flavor you can get used to. The more you consume slightly bitter things the more acclimated you become and may even grow to crave it. You may not have loved brussels sprouts as a child, but over the years you kept trying them and now you’re the person who brings roasted brussels sprouts to Thanksgiving. Our palates are always changing.
So, in short, don't be afraid to adjust a drink to your liking. What’s the point of consuming things that don’t make you happy? And don’t be afraid of bitters. Start with just a few dashes and find what works for you.