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I’m Not Bitter

bitters collection

Drink-A-Rama is the result of my decision to give up heavy drinking. No longer drinking alcohol kicked off a search to find interesting non-potent potables equally as enjoyable as a well-made cocktail or craft beer. As I started my research into soft cocktails and adult sodas, I started running into bitters as an ingredient. I had always associated bitters with cocktails figuring their high alcohol content kept them out of the adult soda game. While it is true bitters have a very high alcohol by volume when they are used in adult soda and non-potent cocktail recipes that alcohol content is diluted to a negligible level.   Unless one is abstaining from religious or extreme health reasons, the alcohol content of bitters should not be an issue unless you are chugging bottles. In fact, bitters have a history of being used for digestive health and appetite stimulation.

I had never really had bitters in the house before starting Drink-A-Rama. For years, I thought Angostura’s was the ONLY bitters. In fact, bitters making has become one of the fastest growing small batch maker markets. The array of producers and bitter varieties is honestly overwhelming. Any visit I make to my favorite bitters shop, The Meadow on Hudson St. in NYC, inevitably ends up in a half hour tasting extravaganza and spending WAY too much money. In addition to using these in non-potent potables, bitters are also great additions to coffee, tea, and even hot chocolate.

The Drink-A-Rama bitters collection is an ever-expanding work in progress, but the current inventory is:

bitters collection

CRUDE BITTERS “Sycophant” Orange & Fig Bitters
I love orange bitters. My favorite makes an appearance a bit farther down the list, but this Crude bitter is really wonderful. A great citrus brightness with the added bonus of a bit of fig sweetness.

SCRAPPY’S BITTERS “Orleans” Small Batch New Orleans Bitters
A wonder old fashion aromatic bitter with a nice spice level and a beautiful licorice edge. This works well in coffee or breakfast tea.

HUSDON STANDARD Ginger Bitters
One of my favorite bitters. Great ginger heat and flavor I often use this as a finish on Sorrel drinks and as an extra ginger layer in my homemade ginger ale. The entire Hudson Standard line including their shrubs are brilliant and worth seeking out.

FEE BROTHERS Gin Barrel Aged Orange Bitters
This is currently my favorite orange bitter. Aging in gin-soaked oak barrels adds a slight herbal tinge to the bitter orange. Excellent in pretty much any fruit soda, I find it works especially well in hot green tea.

WOODFORD RESERVE Spiced Cherry Bitters
A sweet bitter? Yes. This has a wonderful bright cherry flavor with a light spiciness and the benefit of bourbon barrel aging. This is my go-to bitter for lemon and lime rickeys. It’s also a great finish for ginger ale.

BAR KEEP Fennel Bitters
This is an amazing bitter tasting exactly like crisp fresh fennel. It has a bright anise scent and a beautiful spicy finish. It goes especially well with apple especially hot cider and apple sodas.

ADDITION Clove Cocktail Spice
Growing up I was addicted to Clove gum. In my college years, I was one of the clove cigarette idiots. So when I came across Addition’s Clove Cocktail Spice, I knew I had to buy a bottle. This is definitely not a traditional bitter. It is, as its name suggests, a liquid spice. A pure kick of clove in dropper form. Great in apple drinks and ginger ale, it’s amazing in coffee (hot or cold brew) and works beautifully to increase the clove profile in Sorrel soda.

BITTERMENS ‘Elemakule Tiki Bitters
First – put “TIKI” on anything and you’ll at least get my attention. Then make the liquid in that “TIKI” bottle taste like cinnamon and allspice and you’ve got a sale. This is my favorite find in the first round of bitter buying. It has the aromatics of a traditional bitter but those tropical spices take it to another level. I use this bitter almost every morning in my breakfast tea. It’s also brilliant with ginger and in Sorrel.

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