Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All

The last cocktail book review I did was on The Drunken Botanist. It was all about the plants that help create our favorite drinks. My latest read is a bitters book called Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All. It is somewhat along the same lines as The Drunken Botanist as it is all about bitters which are made from various plants and a wonderful addition to many cocktails.

Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All

Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, written by Brad Thomas Parsons was published in 2011. As the name indicates, it covers all things related to bitters including good ones to buy and how to make your own. It also delves somewhat into the world of setting up your home bar with information on bar tools, glassware and such.

Bitters have a long history that is full of medicinal claims, lawsuits over the use of a word and an almost complete disappearance from our drinks. Thankfully, that didn’t happen and bitters are once again booming in the bar scene.

In the Bitters book, Parsons gives a somewhat brief recant of the history of bitters along with a look at the current bitters boom.

While you can buy many different types of bitters today in various stores and online, it’s also fun to make your own. To help you do this, Parsons has a whole section on how to make bitters, complete with bitters recipes. I’m currently collecting ingredients to make the apple bitters and the coffee-pecan bitters. I might also try a few of the citrus ones this winter.

Recipes in the Bitters book

So… what’s a person to do with all of these bitters? Add them to drinks (and food), of course! The Bitters book has three chapters dedicated to using bitters. The first covers classic cocktail recipes with bitters. Some of the drinks normally call for bitters, like Pink Gin which is gin and Angostura bitters. Others, such as the Negroni, don’t normally have bitters but he adds them to the recipe to amp up the flavors.

The new cocktail chapter is focused on recipes for new bitters-filled drinks from various bartenders. Many are seasonal so you’ll want to enjoy them according to the calendar. I’m looking forward to the Mrs. Kitzel, a hot apple cider and spiced rum cocktail with apple bitters to keep me warm during the upcoming fall and winter months.

I do have to say, I think much of my drooling comes from the chapter about bitters in the kitchen. Just reading the words Bitters and Balsamic Macerated Strawberries with Brown Sugar Bourbon Whipped Cream leaves me salivating.

Overall thoughts on this Bitters book

I found Parsons Bitters book to be a quick read. I wish that there had been more on the history of bitters as I find that stuff fascinating. I also could have done without the section on setting up your home bar, it seemed out of place in the book.

Other than that, I’m a happy camper or I guess I should say a happy drinker. The information on making bitters was super useful and the cocktail and food recipes sound wonderful. I’m glad I added this book to my always expanding cocktail book collection. Order it on Amazon so you can add it to your collection too.

Note… this post contains some affiliate links to help cover the cost of the booze related to running this site.

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