Bittermens’ take on the classic orange bitters, just don’t call it orange bitters.
From the makers: For years, we’ve been asked when we were going to start making an orange bitters. Our thought was that there are already so many orange bitters out there that it really didn’t make sense to create another one. But… the idea of doing something with orange was still looming in our collective consciousness.
We’ve really been less than satisfied with the orange bitters that are generally available, as so many orange bitters have burnt caramel in their base, giving them a very dark flavour. When we think of what an orange should taste like, we want something more like orange juice. Honestly, at home when we want orange bitters, we just use an orange twist paired with a complimentary bitter.
Maybe the answer wasn’t to do an orange bitter at all, but to do something orange that would pair with bitters in a cocktail.
Instead of thinking about bitters, we started to explore the syrups and preparations used in soda shops, focusing on cream sodas and phosphates. Riffing on an orange cream soda syrup, we created a concentrated orange cream tincture and modified it with a heavy dose of citric acid (instead of using phosphoric acid like the soda jerks used to use). The result? The Orange Cream Citrate. Sweet, sour, tart and creamy, but not bitter by any sense.
New York’s Bittermens is the creation of Avery and Janet Glaser and are widely recognised as frontrunners in the modern explosion of small batch and artisan bitters. After impressing with the Xocolatl Mole and Hiooed Grapefruit bitters they’ve released a range of unique flavours and collaborations.
Bitters are used to flavour cocktails and other drinks. Initially rising to prominence in the 1800s and often marketed as a medicinal product, cocktail bitters emerged as the cocktail-making equivalent of ‘salt and pepper’ in cooking. Although the market consolidated during the 20th century, there has been a boom of small, hand-crafted flavours from all over the world since the turn of the millennium.
They add complexity and refinement, helping balance sweet and other flavours. You do not need to be a world-class bartender to enjoy them, however, they can be utilised as simply as adding a few dashes to soda water to add flavour, something particularly effective after a night of indulgence.