Cocktail bitters: the small but mighty ingredient

13 April, 2023

Another trend being noticed is, as Charles-Barber puts it, “an increased fusion of the bar kitchen”. Bar and kitchen teams are working much more closely to “create not only culinary cocktails and edible garnishes, but incorporating more fresh ingredients and garden herbs into cocktails – think ginger and lemon,” says Charles-Barber.

“Angostura has such a key role in binding food flavours together here in the Caribbean and we’re starting to see that play out in other parts of the world as bartenders are influencing chefs, just as chefs have been influencing bartenders for many years,” CharlesBarber continues. “Lots of good things come out of this bar kitchen concept and huge opportunities for lots of flavour and reduced waste.”

Bittered Sling is a brand that began with this already in mind. Chovancek says he and Mote “developed recipes and applications specifically for the bitters range to become the bridge between the culinary arts and modern cocktails”.

Bitters and the culinary world have a harmonious relationship, as Chovancek explains: “The flavour of bitter activates the appetite and aids in digestion, and was used for centuries in all cultures frequently for these reasons, before becoming famous in classic cocktails. Bitters add the missing ingredient to drinks, adding the vital flavour characteristic to make balanced drinks.”

Looking ahead

With the category continuing to grow, Berg says The Bitter Truth will “be at the forefront of trying to drive that growth”. He adds: “We encourage any brand to help build the market.

“We always have and do believe in ourselves and where we can take the category, as one of the first movers that has been instrumental in building it. After all, we are the oldest bartender-owned spirit brand in the world. We have a reputation to live up to and we challenge ourselves every day to perform our best,” says Berg.

With its “classic” flavours of aromatic, chocolate and orange still its most sought-after, The Bitter Truth is also seeing “steep” growth with its newer flavours such as cucumber, olive, grapefruit and peach. Berg adds: “The width of our range, with 12 distinct flavours, always gives us the possibility to cater to regional trends.”

Angostura is also experiencing the category boost, with Charles-Barber reporting “sales in the Caribbean, North America, Australia and EMEA all experiencing double digit-growth”. She adds: “We’ve been working hard to maintain and increase our global bitters market share of 84% and are focused on continuing our global expansion.” The brand also has plans to launch Angostura Orange bitters and Angostura Cocoa bitters in South Africa, a key EMEA market for it.

The Bittered Sling notes its growth will include working with young bartenders. Chovancek says: “We see in the on-trade a deeper understanding with young bartenders, realising the power and importance of having bitters in their cocktail recipes.

“We continue to grow into new markets, still 100% owned by the founders and managed in partnerships with great distribution partners, with North America continuing to be our biggest opportunity.”

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