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Have you been to any of those cheap bars that gave you a handful of good times and a mouthful of bad drinks? Sure, it was great for the moment; but as you start to expand your horizons, you realize that quality bars use different tools in their arsenal, which helps to make the experience of their patrons much better. One such tool is an amazing little bottle called a cocktail bitter, which can make a decent drink amazing! After my first experience with them, I had this question; what are the best cocktail bitters?
What Are They?
Well, before we can answer which cocktail bitter is best, we should explore what cocktail bitters are. They are usually an alcohol and water mixture (with other flavors and herbs added depending on the brand) that help balance out a drink. They can also add an extra flavor to help give your drinks that extra “wow” factor.
The Big Names
Cocktail bitters have been around for well over a hundred years but were initially used in a medical capacity. One of the most popular brands that have been there from beginning is Angostura. A staple of the cocktail bitter community, Angostura is a standard bitter complete with an interesting history and a highly regarded, secret recipe. Aside from Angostura’s classic bitter, the Angostura orange is a great contender for the best cocktail bitter.
Peychauds bitter, another classic, hails from New Orleans and, although it is not the most popular bitter, it is still a great one. Some find its taste to be more balancing and claim they can practically taste the proverbial Mardi Gras when they use this bitter.
The best choice for a cocktail bitter will be dependent on the drink you are coupling it with. For instance, a bland drink may benefit from the added kick of a zesty chili bitter. Want your cocktail to taste more like beer? Use a hop bitter to give you that flavor. Want to add some citrus flavor to your high-shelf gin? Use a delicious grapefruit bitter. There are no shortages of bitter flavors and, to really know which ones work for you, you should really try them all!
If you haven’t realized it yet, the question of which bitter is best is absolutely a subjective one. But, finding that answer can be a lot of fun! Trying these different cocktail bitters will step up your drinking game and also make you more cultured in the process (or at least you can tell yourself that to make yourself feel better!) Have fun determining which cocktail bitters you like best and always remember to drink responsibly.