Joined May 26, 2001
A mention in the "Sparkling Water " thread reminded me how much I like bitters. Most people probably know the Angostura brand, but the last time I was in New Orleans I bought a bottle of Peychaud's. Peychaud's has a slightly more orange-y scent, and a strong aroma of anise.

The standard use for bitters is in cocktails: pink gin, Manhattan, Champagne cocktail, Shooing Away the Tribes of the Night, Old Fashioned, and so on. However, I like to add it to food for the indefinable zip it can give. (Kind of the way fish sauce enhances dishes unexpectedly.) I always add some when I make Kofta -- grilled patties of ground lamb with Middle Eastern spicing.

Anyone else like -- and use -- bitters?
Joined Nov 21, 2001
bartenders classic upset stomach relief - soda water with a few drops of bitters. works every time. ;)
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Oh Suzanne! What a lovely thread :)

I think we owe an ode to bitters the same way marmalady composed one for grits the other day.

I have never used bitters in cooking and I mustthink about it, thanks for the idea :)
Joined Mar 13, 2001

First of, thanks for this interesting thread.

Did you know that a few dashes of bitters can be used in cakes? (Trick from my beloved grandma) ;)
Joined May 26, 2001
Ooops, sorry, Marm, I should have realized that not everyone would know. :blush:

"Bitters" is (like "grits is") a vaguely medicinal concoction used as a flavoring/coloring agent mostly in beverages. It is, in fact, bitter (surprise!) -- but depending on the brand will also have notes of orange zest, anise, and other spices. Like Worcestershire, hoisin, and fish sauces, one could probably make it at home, but why bother (other than for the fun of the science)? Besides, companies that sell it are pretty proprietary about their recipes. In a way it's like Lydia Pinkham's tonic -- very high alcohol content (about 25%) -- but much more difficult to drink on its own in quantity.

I put it in a similar class with fish sauce and shrimp paste: ingredients that are nasty on their own, but add a flavor dimension that nothing else can.
Joined Mar 12, 2001
I love bitters, and always ask for extra in my drink.
A nice hangover remedy ( if there really is such a thing) is a glass of lemonade stirred for a while to get rid of some of the bubbles, with heaps of bitters in it.
You're going for a dark colour rather than just a blush.
There is sugar for a little energy, and a bit of alcohol to smooth the edges.


Staff member
Joined Mar 29, 2002
Hey, I'm a non-drinker and I knew.

I use it in sauces and gravies. Not always, but when I want to tilt the flavor a different than usual direction. Good for nonalcoholic drinks too where it lends a bit of dryness to the beverage.

Joined Feb 6, 2002
How weird....I'm still searching the supermarket for a bottle of angostura bitters. I use it in my uncles recipe for great slushies.

orange juice
fruit punch
a few drops of bitters

This makes great popsicles and my kiddies love em. The bitters give them an extra kick.

Joined Jun 1, 2001
Oh, I like bitter anything -- not just bitters, but things like Campari and that lovely medicinal-tasting herb liqueur whose name I can never remember. (Mmm! Campari and soda!)

Wonder if I could ever get Peychaud's up here? That sounds good.

Suzanne, I must ask... please, do you have the recipe for Shooing Away the Tribes of the Night? My cocktail collection cannot possibly be complete without that one! (Specially since I dyed my hair black last week.)
Joined May 26, 2001
From: The Bartender's Bible: 1001 Mixed Drinks and Everything You Need to Know to Set Up Your Bar by Gary Regan (who writes a column on spirits for "Nation's Restaurant News"):

Shooing Away the Tribes of the Night (an aperitif)

1 ounce dry vermouth
3/4 ounce brandy
1/2 teaspoon Cointreau or triple sec
1/4 teaspoon Ricard
1/4 teaspoon cherry brandy
1 dash bitters
1 maraschino cherry
1 orange slice

Pour the vermouth, brandy, Cointreau, Ricard, cherry brandy, and bitters into an old-fashioned glass almost filled with ice cubes. Stir well and garnish with the cherry and the orange slice.

Unfortunately, other than the standards (martini, manhattan, etc.), Regan does not explain the origins of the names. But this one is below "Sacred Mountain of the Pekingese Cloud Gods," "Same Old Song," and "Seething Jealousy," and just ahead of "Strong-Armed Chris Returns to the Den." :beer: :beer: :beer: :roll:
Joined Jun 1, 2001
Maybe he names drinks the same way a bartender I met once names drinks.

Lady in a black veiled cocktail hat walks into a bar. She's not quite sure what she feels like drinking that evening.

"What would you make for a woman in a black hat?" she asks.

"Good hat," the bartender says. "What do you like?"

Lady reels off a few things, and adds a couple other things that make her gag.

Bartender produces tall, icy drink of an attractive peach shade.

Lady tastes it. It's pleasant, tart, not too sweet (one of the things that makes her gag), but she realises that melon liqueur (which she had not tried before) is not going to be a favourite.

"Not bad," she says.

"What would you like to call it?" bartender asks, scribbling.

Remembering the melon liqueur, lady replies, "Cat's Hat Folly."

And so it was.
Joined Jul 24, 2001
Wow! :)

Needless to say that I love such stories!

I wonder in which forum we could start posting our favourite cocktails and the story that goes with every recipe!

"Shooing away the tribes of night!" you order this old-fashioned cocktail just to pronounce this mysterious phrase :cool:
Joined Dec 23, 2000
I went through the Angostura bitters factory when it was still located in Santiago de Cuba. (Now, that was a LONG time ago.)

I remember thay had a series of stainless steel pressure tanks about 30" in diameter and five or six feet high. They opened the tank's top and set in a circular basket about a foot high which contained a compressed mass of the herbs thay used to flavor the stuff. It looked like a bunch of lawn and shrub clippings and naturally they didn't tell us much about what it was. Quite a lot of whatever is was had been compressed hydraulically into an almost-solid mass.

They locked down the top, hooked up a pipe, and forced a locally-made brandy at pretty high pressure through the mass to infuse the brandy with the flavor of the secret lawn clippings. :D

I guess they dilute it then, if the finished product is 25% or so alcohol.

Still fond of it in tonic drinks and for some food recipes.

Speaking of tonic drinks, anybody fond of Tequila and tonic, with a big squirt of lime juice?

Joined May 26, 2001
Thanks for that description, Mike. It's always neat to learn how things are made!

I can now personally attest to the effectiveness of bitters in settling the stomach. At the Fancy Food Show, I was like everyone else, tasting all sorts of stuff. As I passed a display from Unterberg, I took a slug. Really helped! Plus, that stuff tasted good to me! Didn't try the Fernet-Branca, though.
Joined Feb 6, 2002
Some interesting reading for anyone who is curious about this product. :)


The legend begins with Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Siegert.

Originally from Germany, Johann Siegert, a doctor of medicine, left his homeland in 1820, the call of adventure ringing in his ears. He was bound for Venezuela, to join with Simon Bolivar in his fight against the Spanish throne. Bolivar then appointed him Surgeon-General of the Military Hospital in the town of Angostura.

Dr. Siegert was above all a scientist. A scientist with a keen enquiring mind. He had seen soldiers battered by the enemy from without and within, by severe fevers and internal stomach disorders.

From the beginning Dr. Siegert was determined to wrest a cure from nature itself and after four years of trial and error, researching and analysing the qualities of tropical herbs and plants, he finally arrived at a unique blend of herbs which he called “Amargo Aromatico” or aromatic bitters. The year was 1824. Dr. Siegert hoped to use the bitters to bring relief to his patients, his small circle of family and friends, but these events were to prove otherwise. From these humble beginnings an international industry was soon to rise.

It was a period of great maritime activity in the Caribbean. The town of Angostura on the banks of the Orinoco River was an important trading post. Ships came into this port from all over the world, their sailors often complaining of sea-sickness. From the residents, they soon learned of the restorative qualities of Dr. Siegert’s remedies and of Angostura[emoji]174[/emoji] aromatic bitters began its continuing trip around the world. Dr. Siegert was encouraged to think of producing his bitters on a commercial scale.

For the continuation of The Story of Angostura Bitters Click Here!


EXCERPT Courtesy Of:
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