Discover why bitter-flavoured cocktails and spritzes are the drinks of the moment
Bitter flavours are trending right now, as consumers increasingly turn away from high-sugar foods and drinks, instead embracing ones with refreshingly herbal and bitter profiles.
WHAT ARE THEY?
If you need some hints about what bitter flavours are, think dark chocolate instead of milk choc, bitter greens like rocket and kale instead of iceberg lettuce, grapefruit rather than banana.
If you still think bitter is something to be avoided, guess again. For centuries across Europe, aperetivo and digestivo beverages – made by infusing bitter herbs, flowers and fruits (particularly citrus) – have been drunk before and after meals for their ability to stimulate and then aid digestion.
HOW TO ENJOY THEM
Some of the most popular bitter spirits, such as Campari and Aperol can simply be drunk neat over ice, with juice, or turned into a spritz with the addition of prosecco or sparkling water. They are also used in cocktails help to bring complexity, giving bartenders the ability to better achieve a balance of sweet and sour flavours with the addition of bitter ones.
BITTER SPIRITS TO TRY
Here’s a selection of some of our favourite bitter spirits, and below, a list of top cocktails to try them in.
Offering low levels of bitterness, vermouths are a good introduction to bitter drinks. These fortified wines are infused with herbs and spices such as orange peel, gentian and liquorice, and have a lovely bittersweetness. Our recommendation is Cinzano Bianco and Cinzano Rosso, mixed in cocktails like the Negroni and Martini, or drunk with a splash of grapefruit juice and ice.
Lighter in body, alcohol and bitterness than Campari, Aperol is a liqueur with rich orange, gentian, rhubarb and grapefruit flavours, and a syrupy consistency. Like vermouth and Campari, it can be enjoyed with a splash of juice or soda, but its most popular rendidition is the Aperol Spritz, a mix of Aperol, prosecco and soda (recipe below).
More bitter than Aperol, Campari is made from a secret recipe that’s rumoured to contain up to 80 ingredients. It has bitter orange flavours infused with herbs and spices (the only ingredients Campari will admit to are water and alcohol – it’s that closely guarded). Most famously used in a Negroni along with vermouth and gin, we also love it served with ice and a dash of soda.