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May 23, 2010 03:04 AM

More newbie stuff: What do I with bitters?

I just purchased a bottle of Angostura bitters. I'm wondering what do with them. I currently have:

Creme De Cacao
Sweet Vermouth
Bison grass vodka
Triple Sec
Ruby Port

So what can I make?

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  1. I find that bitters pair better with brown liquors, in general. Get thee some bourbon, rye, whiskey, etc. And, while Angostura is fine, I really prefer Fee's and Regan's, as they have more complexity to me.

    This already may be a cocktail, but gin, sweet vermouth and bitters sounds interesting to me, but I really love all three of those ingredients.

    3 Replies
    1. re: invinotheresverde

      I disagree about the pairing better with brown spirits. Gin's botanicals has a lot of overlap with those in bitters and pair well with Angostura, Orange, and others.

      The 2:1 gin to sweet vermouth with Angostura is frequently called the Artillery. The better known drink adds a dash of orange bitters and is called the Hearst (named after the newspaper mogul). Although the Hearst is traditionally made as an equal parts drink (more modern is the 2:1).

      1. re: yarm

        That's cool. No one said you had to agree with me.

        1. re: yarm

          True enough - a classic martini is vastly improved by (and according to many old recipes, should always include) a dash or two of orange bitters.

      2. I think you could do the same with the rum, particularly if it is amber or dark.

        Try the bitters in a tall glass of seltzer with a big squeeze of lemon. It's my go-to non(almost) alcoholic drink.

        1. If you get some benedictine, you can make a Gypsy:

          2 oz vodka
          1 oz Benedictine
          goodly dash of Angnostura

          Stir and strain into chilled cocktail glass; express the oils of a swath of lemon peel, and discard or toss into the drink.

          You can also make "pink gin", which is just gin and a dash of Angostura; method of preparation and garnish should be the same as above. I haven't tried it myself, but it's recommended by Ted Haigh in "Vintage Spirits & Forgotten Cocktails".

          I tend to prefer brown spirits; I can't say which type of spirits aromatic bitters go better with, but I would second invinotheresverde's suggestion to pick up some straight rye and / or other whisky. Then you can make Old Fashioneds, Manhattans (and a lot of Manhattan variations), etc.

          Technically, you should use Old Tom style gin, but if you get some Maraschino liqueur, you could also make a Martinez (Sweet Vermouth, Gin, Maraschino, aromatic bitters).

          1 Reply
          1. re: will47

            I love Pink Gin. It's best when you give a heavy hand with a few solid dashes of bitters - to me the whole point is the balance of Angostura and gin.

            A British friend of mine introduced me to a drink she called a Long Vodka (though I think that's just a generic term for vodka mixed-drink): A couple of dashes of Angostura on ice in a highball glass, shot of vodka, fill with Sprite. It's refreshing and kind of a poor man's Pimm's.

          2. A dash of bitters added to almost any cocktail improves it, adding complexity. Even cocktails that you think might not work well with bitters, usually do. The original meaning of cocktail was a drink made with spirits, sugar, water, and bitters.

            1 Reply
            1. re: JMF

              I've been using them with Gin and Minted lemonade so far so, so tasty!