A bitters originally inspired by fresh gin and tonics that also works with a range of white spirits.
From the makers: Back in 2012, our Spanish importer asked if we could make bitters that would complement a gin and tonic that had a heavy cucumber note to it. The bitters that we came up with were amazing – bright briny cucumber notes and aroma that were supported by tart Chinese winter melon and aromatic juniper berries.
Unfortunately, these bitters were impossible to make in volume as one of the key ingredients, a hydrosol (or water distillate), was only available after the cucumber harvest and was only made in such small volumes that we couldn’t make more than a hundred cases a year.
For the past four years, we’ve been trying to find a way to reproduce the bitters without the hydrosol, but we’ve never got it to work exactly right. However, one test batch did something completely unexpected. The sourness of the winter melon came forward, the berry notes became a bit more prominent and the cucumber moved into a supporting position. The result was a bright bitterly sour blend that worked beautifully with a whole range of clear spirits.
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.