It's OK to be bitters (with a cherry on top)

Amy Stewart is not a bitter woman. She’s quite delightful, actually. But she’s gone totally ga-ga for DIY kits for making your own bitters on her blog.

Don’t know much about bitters, you say? Think you’re far too well-adjusted a person for all this talk of bitters ? Well, get off the shrink’s couch and go beyond the martini glass. Bitters are hip again. Here’s today’s lesson on bitters:

These alcohols are high-proof solutions, infused with herbs and other aromatic plants, and they provide that finishing touch that pulls together all the flavors in your cocktail. And bitters have been doing the job since the dawning of cocktails, from an Old Fashioned to a Manhattan to a gin martini and beyond.

Amy explains on her blog,  “The most essential ingredient in any batch of bitters is — well — the thing that gives it its bitterness.  Traditionally that bitterness comes from some sort of tree bark or root.  It’s usually quinine, from the cinchona tree, or angostura, from the angostura tree, or gentian root.”

The cocktail-garden-growing author of The Drunken Botanist (publishing in March!) has a Pinterest board with recipes for DIY bitters and other infusions, but she says “the problem with making your own bitters is that some of the spices are expensive and difficult to track down. (You cannot get gentian root in the spice section at Safeway.)” That’s why Amy has fallen for the DIY kits from Dash Bitters. Give it a grow!

And to finish off this decidedly bitters post, we’re going to put a cherry on top (or at the bottom of the glass). You can grow your own cherries, too! Amy has some tips for that. Dark, sour cherries are the best for drinks. She says, “The easiest way to make use of these in a cocktail is to clean them, pit them, and soak them in Luxardo maraschino liqueur for a couple of weeks.”

(Amy got her proverbial cherry on top this week with raves from and Amazon, which put The Drunken Botanist on its list of the top 10 books for Spring. Sweet!)

For more about cocktails and the plants that create them, check out The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart, which publishes in March. You can order it now.

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