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Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitters & Amari: 500 Bitters; 50 Amari; 123 Recipes for Cocktails, Food & Homemade Bitters
Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitters & Amari: 500 Bitters; 50 Amari; 123 Recipes for Cocktails, Food & Homemade Bitters
Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitters & Amari: 500 Bitters; 50 Amari; 123 Recipes for Cocktails, Food & Homemade Bitters
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Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitters & Amari: 500 Bitters; 50 Amari; 123 Recipes for Cocktails, Food & Homemade Bitters

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Hundreds of cocktail bitters are on the market, and millions are turning to them to add punch, pizzazz, and complexity to their cocktails and even their cooking. But the storm of exciting brands and flavors has even the savviest bartenders puzzled over their personalities and best uses. Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitters and Amari is the handbook that decodes today’s burgeoning selection of bitters, along with their kindred spirits amari and shrubs, complete with 190 photographs.
The introduction includes everything you need to know to understand what bitters and amari are and how to use them. recipes for making essential and inventive bitters at home. The next section offers 123 recipes for making essential bitters at home, mixing, and cooking bitters, from a Burnt Grapefruit Gimlet to a Martini Julep, from Bittered Bittersweet Chocolate Torte to BBQ Pork Ribs with Bittersweet BBQ Sauce. Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitters and Amari cracks open the full potential of bitters, inspiring and empowering people to try them. The final section includes a comprehensive field guide to the wide world of the more than 500 great bitters and 50 amari available today. Complete with tasting notes, profiles of important makers and brand photography, the guide gives everyone from pro bartenders to home cooks a solid foundation for buying and using bitters.
Erscheinungsdatum27. Okt. 2015
Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitters & Amari: 500 Bitters; 50 Amari; 123 Recipes for Cocktails, Food & Homemade Bitters
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  • Bewertung: 4 von 5 Sternen
    Nice smaller book that covers a lot. Cocktail recipes along with some recipes for making bitters. The back of the book is a nice tasting reference for many of the amari that are out there. While there are plenty of new ones on the market with the number that have been around forever it will still be a useful reference.


Bitterman's Field Guide to Bitters & Amari - Mark Bitterman


Acknowledgments •




What Are Bitters and Amari? • A Bite of Bitter

A Bit of Bitters History • The Science of Bitterness


Building Your Own Bitters And Amari

Solvents • Flavorings • Bittering Agents

Flavoring Botanicals • Tools for Making Bitters

Homemade Bitters Recipes

Citrus Bitters

Herbal Bitters Master

Herbal Bitters Variations

Baking Spice Bitters Master

Baking Spice Bitters Variations

Shrub Bitters Master

Shrub Bitters Variations

Aromatic Bitters

Scorched Earth Bitters

Barrel Bitters

Efflorescent Bitters

Smoke Bitters

Horse Bitters

Absinthe Bitters

Mint Julep Bitters

byo (build your own) amaro


Bitters-Forward Cocktails

Bringing Bitters Forward • Ingredients • Simple Syrup Recipes

Equipment • Techniques

Cocktail Recipes

Pulling Rank

Moto Guzzi Sbagliato

The Martini in Amber

Il Cacciatore

I Am Love

Mexican Shave

The Imperfected Martini

Cucumber Origami

Gin and Bitters

Perfectly Sloe

Martini Family Friends

The Better Bittered Manhattan

Jeune Carré

The Dread Bitter Robert

Rusty Spike

Fourth Regiment Massacre

Midtown Martinez

Spanish Harlem

Scotch and Cigars

Whiskey Sour Sandwich

Sicilian Bitter Almond Sour



Embittered Negroni


Black Narcissus

Negroni Giallo

Cynaro de Bergamot

Bitter Old Pal

Bitter Blasted Old Fashioned

Maybach on the Seine

Sidecar in Provence

Tom Collins II

Deconstructed French 75

Dandelion and Burdock Tonic

The Thoroughbred

Chance of Showers

Michael Collins

Versailles 75

Bettered Champagne Cocktail

Mai Tai Kwon Do

Pegu Club VIP

All Hail Bloody Mary

Bitter-Boosted Mint Julep

Martini Julep

Barrel-Aged Julep

Herbalicious Julep

Southern Blossom

Six Gun City Peach Julep

Smokin’ Julep

Tidy Toddy

Bittered Boozy Coffee

Hot Bittered Rum

Modern-Day Mead

Mulled Wine

Embittered Beer


Absinthe-Absent Sazerac

Bitters-Based Cocktails

Smart Blonde

Amaro Cocktails

Snowball in Hell

Angostura Sour Master

Sour Apple Sour

Ginger Sour



Amargo Bitter Tonic

Cacao Kapow Sour

Satan’s Sour

Temperance Tonics

Three-Berry Switchel

Sparkling Espresso

sparkling celery tonic


Cooking with Bitters


Bitter Buttered Popcorn

Roasted Tomato Crostini with Bitter Balsamic Drizzle

Bloody Mary Gazpacho with Lots of Bitters

Fried Olive-Stuffed Olives with Bitter Lemon Olive Oil

Aged Pecorino with Bittered Honey and Frizzled Prosciutto

Main Dishes

Bittered Southern Fried Chicken

Ethiopian Chicken with Preserved Lemon Relish

Grilled Porterhouse au Poivre with Pre-Prohibition Sarsaparilla Steak Sauce

Panfried Thick Pork Chops Basted with Bittered Maple Sugar Butter

BBQ Ribs with Bittersweet BBQ Sauce

Tabbouleh with Apricots and Pistachios, Chile and Mint Bitters Vinaigrette

Sazerac Cioppino

Vegetable Sides

Tangerine-Fennel Salad with Bitter Celery Vinaigrette

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Spiced Root Beer Butter

Butter Lettuce Salad with Parsley and Bitter Grapefruit Vinaigrette


Roasted Orange Pears with Pine Bitters

Lemon-Cardamom Bittered Ice Cream Sandwiches

Bittered Bittersweet Chocolate Torte

Triple-Bittered Buttermilk Pancakes

Salted Bitter Chocolate-Covered Orange Peel with Bitters

Fernet Flan


The Field Guide to Bitters

Evaluation Process • A Taxonomy for Bitters • Bitters Classifications


The Field Guide to Amari

What’s in a Sip of Amari? • Evaluation Process

E-book Index

Metric Conversions and Equivalents


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Thanks to my indefatigable and brilliant friend Andy Schloss for the toil and genius that makes writing a book not only fun, but doable in the first place. I’m deeply grateful to Kaitlin Hansen for the ceaseless encouragement, selfless hard work, and discerning taste buds. Thanks also to Arturo Martinini for high-velocity photography and sensory metaphors. As always, my thanks to the truly extraordinary team of truly world-class bitters experts at the Meadow, including the hands-on help from Taylor Klobertanz, Violet Tchalakov, and Mark Chapman.

To my editor, Jean Lucas, and my publisher, Kirsty Melville: I’m honored and humbled by your creative, generous, and patient support. Thank you for believing in me and working so thoughtfully to bring this book into the world. Thank you Tim Lynch and Holly Ogden for the inspired ideas that make this book look like the dream I first had of it. Thanks to brilliant and humble photographer Clare Barboza as well as to Julie Hopper and assistant Milana Zettel for so artfully styling the food and cocktails.

My thanks to Jon Christensen for the masterful mixing and to Sophie and Eric Banh for lending us Ba Bar. Thanks Jermaine Whitehead for lending a hand—and an arm. Sincere thanks to Kia Karimi for the networking and support. My profound gratitude to Stephan Berg for so generously sharing vintage bitters bottle photography and counsel. Thanks Ted Haigh for supporting the book

and the cause of bitters. My deepest gratitude goes to all the bitters makers for throwing such amazing encouragement, donations, and expertise behind this project. Very special thanks to Gaz Regan, Peter Schaf, Fenny van Wees, Marco Zappia, and Scot Mattox for your wisdom and generosity. Looking back at my e-mail inbox, my God, I really am grateful. Thank you: Abbey MacDonald, Adam Elmegirab, Adrienne Lavalle, Alana Tees, Amy Preske, Ashley DuVal, Avery Glasser, Benjamin Carpenter, Bill and Lillian Buitenhuys, Bill York, Bob Petrie, Brenton Engel, Brooks Reitz, Cindy Capparelli, Clint Potter, Cole Benoit, Craig Rudewicz, Dale DeGroff, David Cole, Doug Stewart, Erik Chapman, Eric Shibley, Erin Hines, Erwin Santiago, Genevieve and Dan Brazelton, Geoff Dillon, Giselle Laronde-West, Gram Howle, Greg Robles, Ian Winget, Ira Koplowitz, Jamie Beurklian, Jamie Boudreau, Jens Kerger, Jeremy Hammill, Jeremy Schwartz, Jesse Smith, Jessie Poole, John Keys, John Troia, Jomaree Pinkard, Jovial King, Jynn Hintz-Romano, Kathy Casey, Keith and Constance Bodine, Lachlan McAllister, Larry Reiter, Laura Nixon, Lauren Mote, Lee Egbert, Louis Anderman, Marianne Courville, Martyn Bignell, Matt Hemeyer, Megan Foster, Meghan Nordt, Melkon Khosrovian, Meredith Grelli, Michael Crane, Michael Goldney, Mike Chichetti, Mike Prasad, Miles Thomas, Miriam Mill, Missy and Kristin Koefod, Monica Wilde, Nick Kosevich, Peter Hunt, Petra Buhr, Ram Udwin, Ray Snead, Rob Easter, Ronit Schlein, Ryan Andrews, Sam De La Rosa, Scott Murray, Dr. Selena Ahmed, Shae Whitney, Shelley McArthur, Stephen Gould, Suzy Pingree, Tae Yoon, Taryn Kapronica, Taylor Brittenham, Tim Obert, Tobias Funke, Toby Cerqua, Tom Rattigan, Whitney Rorison, and Zach Feldman.

Thanks to the superb distilleries that generously donated spirits: Bridget Carrick of Rogue Spirits, Jennifer Kadell of Bull Run Distillery, Kathy Irwin of Oregon Spirit Distillers, Kirstin Johansson and Danlyn Brennan of New Deal Distillery, and David Landrum and Peter Bailey of Two James Spirits.

Most of all, thank you to my wonderful sons, Austin and Hugo, for rolling with it through the long days and nights of bottles and botanicals and bitters-laden meals.

Nobody knows for sure how the cocktail got its name, but I am certain it was because they were your wake-up call—like a rooster heralding the early morning light. And its plumage? Those spicy bitters.

Ted Haigh,

Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails

What Are

Bitters and Amari?


Bitter-tasting foods are dangerous. They are also essential for health. Bitterness in plants indicates the presence of toxins, but it also indicates the presence of vital nutrients. Bitterness can kill you and it can save you. Our intrigue with bitter flavors is part of the exhilarating dance we play with food and drink, the enterprise of deriving nutrition and stimulation from a bountiful but occasionally treacherous natural world.

Bitters and amari (amaro is Italian for bitter) make up the sole category of food or drink constructed entirely around the dubious but arousing flavor of bitterness. Bitters are concentrated flavor extracts for seasoning. Amari are concentrated flavor extracts for drinking. That is the sole difference. By definition, both are bitter. They are beloved, not despite their bitter flavors but because of them. This is the field guide to liquids whose very existence is entwined with life and death.

I have grown close to bitters and amari. With help from friends, colleagues, and the thousands of bartenders and customers frequenting The Meadow, my shops in Portland and New York City, I have tasted and used well over 600 varieties of bitters, most of them many times. My mission here is to make them intelligible, their varieties understood, and their uses accessible. They are my family—and yes,it’s a little weird that my last name is Bitterman.

The flavor of a given bitters or amaro can be derived from a single ingredient, like lemon peel, or it can be created in layers with a multitude of ingredients, like hibiscus petals and cherry pits for prominent notes, birch leaf and angostura bark for depth, and allspice and star anise warming everything to an aromatic glow. Anchoring these flavors, or perhaps inherent in them, is a bittering agent. Gentian, wormwood, and quassia are some favorites, but there are dozens if not hundreds more (for a list, see here). Because each bittering agent has its own degree of bitterness and is flavorful by itself, the lines between flavoring agent and bittering agent are blurred, if not ultimately meaningless. Citrus, for example, is used as much for its bitter bioflavonoids as for its citrusy limonene.

Bitters and amari, however, are not only about bitterness. Bitterness brings bitters and amari together as a family, but it does not fully define them. A gentian root tincture is not a bitters or an amaro. More is needed. But before going further into the products, we need to understand our relationship to bitterness, the flavor.

A Bite of Bitter


Of all the flavors, bitterness is the most controversial in culinary terms. And for good reason: Bitter flavors are a plant’s way of warding off animal attacks. Once an animal consumes a toxic substance from a plant, it is not likely to eat that plant again. A small dose of bitter alkaloid from a gentian root or cinchona bark might be enough to kill an insect or make a small mammal sick. Strangely though, for larger animals like humans, the bitter substances can have the opposite effect. It turns out, taking in small amounts of plant toxins is medicinal, killing off all sorts of harmful microorganisms hanging out in our bodies. In the right doses, these dangerous substances are actually helpful. Think of bitterness as a sort of bacterial chemotherapy of the natural world.

Still, warning lights and buzzers go off in our primal brains whenever we taste something bitter: What is this? Is this safe? As a consequence, we have evolved to reject bitter foods as a mechanism for surviving in a dangerous foodscape. Of all the flavors that we receive on the palate, we are the most sensitive to bitter.

Avoiding bitterness is a way of avoiding death. This makes sense intuitively. However, the hypothesis has not been tested as thoroughly as you might expect given all the wonderful foods out there that contain some bitterness but are not toxic: Take coffee, cacao, kale, radishes, and even grapefruit and oranges as examples. A problem with the bitterness-equals-death theory is that the actual toxicity of a compound doesn’t seem to match up well with our threshold of tolerance for the bitterness of that compound. Highly toxic cyanide, which is produced naturally by various microorganisms and plants, and arsenic, which is a natural element that is concentrated in many plants, both taste less bitter than many commonly used bittering agents such as gentian and wormwood—or so I am told. In short, by solely avoiding bitterness, we may eat too much of something that is mildly bitter but powerfully toxic, while we would stop eating another bitter-tasting food that provides more nourishment than harm well before we have taken in enough to harm us. Also, by avoiding bitter-tasting foods, we miss out on all the nutrients they hold. Bitter foods are often very high in minerals, antioxidants, and other complex nutritive compounds.

One last factor complicating the picture is that the tolerance for bitterness varies between individuals and cultures. I love dandelion greens in salad, but my automobile mechanic, with whom I debate food endlessly whenever his team is working to resuscitate my failing car, hates them. In China, practitioners of traditional medicines and nutrition emphasize the benefits of bitterness, and in the ancient cultures of Italy and Greece, bitter vegetables and fermented spirits made from them were, and still are, an intrinsic part of what is considered a healthy diet.

The truth is complicated. Our current predisposition to turn up our noses at bitter foods may be influenced by a food environment that has artificially heightened our love of sweets, fats, salt, and proteins and decreased our ability to appreciate the diversity of other flavors available to us. The phenomenon of the acquired taste—which almost always means something bitter is going on—may be a way for us to experience the thrill of triumph over danger. It’s a negroni, so you love it, but it’s bitter, so you are afraid of it . . . but it’s a negroni! So you drink it anyway, tossing caution to the wind. When you are done, you have grown. The natural world, and your frontiers of pleasure, have expanded.

I see the appreciation of bitter tones as a sign of human evolution. Biologically, we should respond to those flavors with disgust—they’re meant to be warning signs of poison. But we can develop not just an understanding of their nuances, but even enjoyment of their complexity. It’s invigorating.

Justin Lane Briggs,

Brooklyn-based master bartender

A Bit of

Bitters History


Bitters and amari are nothing new. Neolithic folks were fermenting grapes, hawthorn berries, and rice as far back as 7000 BC. The bitterness of these wild or just barely domesticated botanicals led them to sweeten the concoction with honey. Hence the first amaro was born. The scholar Martin Levey cites evidence that distillation existed in Mesopotamia around 2000 BC. Perfume was most likely the product, not spirits. Speculation by historians on the advent of distilled beverages ranges from several thousand years BC to the first century AD, though credible reports have the Chinese distilling a spirit from rice beer at least since 800 BC, which seems reasonable given that there is archeological evidence of Neolithic Chinese drinking beer dated at least six thousand years before that. The Greeks were at least crude distillers, and by the first century AD the Romans were enjoying distilled spirits as well, if in limited quantities.

Traditionally, bitters were tinctures concocted from plants deemed to have medicinal or other beneficial properties. In fact, to a large degree it was the bitterness itself that was considered medicine. Early bitters and amari, of this medicinal sort, were popular cures for the bubonic plague in the fourteenth century, which killed in the neighborhood of 25 million people in Europe. Every imaginable part of a plant was fodder for bitters makers, and this tradition holds true today: roots (angelica, ginger), bark (cinnamon, wormwood), leaves (dandelion, black walnut), seeds (mustard, coriander), pods (cardamom, vanilla), petals (lavender, chamomile), stigmas (saffron, fennel pollen), fruits (pears, strawberries), rinds (melon, pomelo), peels (grapefruit, quince), nuts (walnut, almond) and beans (cacao, coffee).

Angostura bitters, surely the most well-known and widely used bitters today, were invented in 1824 by J.G.B. Siegert as a remedy for the stomach problems of Simón Bolívar’s soldiers. In the late 1800s, there were hundreds of quality bitters, all of them vying aggressively for supremacy. Wild claims and the smoke and mirrors of advertising could only take a bitters so far. Given the enormously crowded market in which bitters competed, there would have had to be a considerable focus on quality for any bitters to rise above the competition. That Angostura won out over all the others, and emerged as a titan of the twenty-first century was because it was good, but it was also because the company, and its U.S. agent, the J.W. Wupperman Company, was rabidly litigious and extraordinarily savvy. Not only did Angostura procure injunctions against a number of companies that it felt encroached on its name (despite the fact that many of the defendants’ products actually used Angostura bark, while Seigert’s Angostura did not!), but it also managed to convince U.S. government officials that it was too bitter to drink on its own, allowing it to be sold legally during Prohibition. Virtually none of its competitors were so lucky.

Despite its preeminence, there are relatively few recipes calling specifically for Angostura bitters in this book. The omission is intentional, meant to encourage us all to explore other options, to push into new terrain rather than simply default to the known. Angostura is the ruler, the Yoda or the Darth Vader, depending on your orientation. But as with any dominant force, talking solely about Angostura when you talk about bitters isn’t just limiting or wrong—it’s missing the point. The diversity of bitters in cocktails is entwined with the diversity of cocktails themselves.

Peychaud’s bitters are unquestionably in the same league as Angostura in terms of quality, but their trademark anise-forward flavor and watery consistency restricts their versatility. Antoine Amédée Peychaud created his bitters around 1830 in New Orleans from a gentian-based formula inherited from his father in Haiti. Peychaud’s, like so many bitters makers, ceased production during Prohibition, but they returned in 1933 and enjoyed most of a century as the sole Creole-style bitters until the creation of The Bitter Truth’s Creole bitters.

A welcome third wheel to the post-Prohibition bitters tricycle is Amargo Chuncho, the most popular bitters in Peru. Macerated with quina and sarrapia leaves and more than thirty other Peruvian botanicals before it is aged in oak barrels for six months, Amargo Chuncho has been intermittently available on the U.S. market and elsewhere. It is best known for its indispensable role in a pisco sour, but it makes for a great, rich, mellow alternative to Angostura.

Fee Brothers, which did not make bitters prior to Prohibition, helped fill the void after it ended with a different approach from the rest. Where traditional bitters were tinctured in alcohol, more or less sweetened, often aged, and always originated from an herbalist or pseudo-herbalist tradition, Fee Brothers took a different approach. Drawing from their tradition of supplying teetotaling flavorings during Prohibition, they based their bitters on glycerin rather than ethanol, and flavored them with natural and artificial flavorings and colorings largely sourced from other manufacturers (see To Fee or Not to Fee).

A host of lesser-known but very important bitters have passed through our collective lips in the decades since Prohibition. Back in the early 1990s, Gary Regan produced his Regans’ Orange No. 6, a firmly bitter orange concoction that filled a big gap left open by Fee Brothers’ decidedly un-bitter West Indian Orange. From Japan we had the strong orange oil flavors of Suntory’s Hermes Orange bitters, along with a less impressive Suntory Hermes Aromatic bitters. Production on both has since ceased.

In 2005 Robert Petrie started Bob’s Bitters in London with a family of single-flavor profile bitters, like lavender, cardamom, orange, and mandarin, among others, making waves felt around the world. In August 2006, The Bitter Truth released their first products in Germany, an orange and an Old Time Aromatic bitters, followed by lemon. Scrappy’s set

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