The classic Peychauds bitters, bright red in colour and tasting of cherry, anise and nutmeg-type spice.
More floral and lighter in spice than Angostura, Peychaud’s serves well to temper sweetness in cocktails and helps balance acidity. Most famously used in a Sazerac cocktail.
Both use gentian root as a base.
Peychaud’s is one of the world’s best-known bitters and was created in 1848 by American pharmacist Antoine Amedie Peychaud. An immigrant from Haiti, he sold his bitters in New Orleans at a time when they were marketed for their health benefits. The recipe rose in popularity to the point where they were being asked for in cocktails in establishments around the city.
They were the bitters in the original Sazerac cocktail, named for the venue in which it was created in 1850. Thomas H Handy bought the Sazerac in 1873 and the privately-owned Sazerac Company still own the brand. Alongside Angostura it was one of the very few bitters to survive beyond American prohibition.
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.