What are Bitters?
"What are Bitters?"
This is one of the most common questions we are asked in the shop and by email, so we thought we would go ahead and enlighten everyone right here on our recipe blog!
What are Bitters? As the name suggests are a grouping of herbs with a predominantly bitter taste. They can range from more mellow plants like Dandelion Leaf to Gentian which is pictured above and widely used in many commercial bitters as a key "bittering" agent. The part of the plant used is usually the leaves, stems or roots, fresh or dried. At our shop we like to demonstrate the bitter quality of gentian by opening a mason jar of dried roots and letting our guests take a whiff- it's so strong that you can taste the bitterness in the back of your throat.
At DRAM we prefer to use plants that can offer their bitter qualities from leaves, stems and flowering parts alone such as Wormwood. This is because digging up the roots of plants can be destructive to the entire crop, wild or cultivated.
We craft all of our bitters using a Cold Maceration process wherein herbs are left to steep in pure alcohol or glycerin for 2 weeks to 6 months. They are then pressed, filtered, bottled and labeled by hand with loving dedication.
"How do bitters work?"
This is a great question and one we are happy to answer as we craft our bitters to offer healing benefits, in addition to being great in cocktails. Plants in the Bitters grouping contain principles such as volatile oils and alkaloids which trigger a sensory response in the mouth. From there a message is sent to the gut initiating the production of the digestive hormone Gastrin as well as other digestive juices from the pancreas, duodenum and liver. Basically- they kick start the digestive process and work wonders if you are suffering from a stomach ache, gas pains, overeating, allergy distorted digestion, indigestion or a sour stomach. For this reason bitters are enjoyed around the world as a Digestif or Digestivo following a meal.
"How can I use bitters?"
They may be used as a therapeutic remedy by adding a few shakes to sparkling or still water, juice, tea and smoothies throughout the day.
In cocktails they work their magic by adding that "missing something" to balance out a cocktail. Think of them like salt and pepper. Without them a drink may taste flat, overly sweet or unbalanced and the addition of bitters can bring the concoction into delicious harmony. The same goes for dressings, marinades, soups, frosting, meringues, cookies, cakes, ice cream.....you're creativity is the limit and we encourage you to explore the options! Don't be afraid to add a few shakes to recipes in the kitchen, if it tastes good add a few more!
We are proud to offer a line of bitters crafted using herbs gathered in the Colorado wild where they grow in beautiful abundance. We believe herbs gathered from the local terrain carry a higher energy and concentration of healing principles than that of their cultivated counterpart. We think it's pretty awesome to incorporate the Colorado wild into your home bar or kitchen with bitters and hope you enjoy our labor of love!