I may be a little biased in thinking that everyone should be adding bitters to their drinks and even bringing cocktail bitters into the kitchen, but there is some science on my side that says eating and drinking bitter things can be more than just tasty.
The Bitter Truth About Bitters
First things first, what are cocktail bitters? They are an extraction of herbs, spices, and botanicals used in drinks to bring balance and complexity. Think of them as the spice rack of cocktail making. I go more in depth on what bitters are in this post and you can read more about how to use them here.
But it turns out there’s more to a few dashes of bitters than just taste. Bitter foods and beverages can stimulate various physiological responses that may contribute to overall well-being.
A bitter taste can be a sign of something poisonous, so when you taste bitter on your tongue it signals to your brain to kick in digestion to get the bad stuff out of your system. But we can use this response to our benefit. Sipping or nibbling on something bitter before or after a large, indulgent meal can help you digest it better. The perfect remedy for that sluggish, bloated feeling.
Satisfy Your Cravings
Bitter flavors have another superpower: they make you feel satiated faster. This is most likely due to the intensity and complexity of bitter as a flavor. Your brain gets a bit of an overload and can signal to your body that you’re all good, no need for more. This is particularly true for sweet cravings. Next time you feel the need for a 3 pm cookie, try having a bitters and soda instead. You just might forget all about that cookie.
Bitter flavors also encourage the production of bile, which helps with digestion and detoxification. Are you seeing a theme here? Bitter flavors seem to wake up your digestive system so that its job gets done in the best possible way.
Regularly consuming bitter foods may reset or balance your palate to make you more sensitive to subtle flavors. Kind of like a more permanent palate cleanser. This can enhance the enjoyment of healthier, less processed foods and may even lead to a preference for them.
Whether it’s dashing bitters in your soda water, crafting more cocktails with bitters, or eating more bitter greens, I encourage you to go ahead and embrace the bitterness.