Back to basics

17 July, 2017

Conclusion: Oh yes.



“We have seen a growing focus on and importance of herbal spirits,” says Dr Hubertine Underberg-Ruder. “The longing of people to be in a deeper contact with nature again is one driver behind this trend.

“Anything artificial is looked at with sceptism – people want to understand and are interested in nature.

“Today we see growing markets for herbal spirits also in countries that do not have any tradition or cultural roots in these fields. Gin – being distilled from herbs – served as a door opener in some of those markets.

Last but not least, our food – especially some vegetables (thanks to newly bred varietals) that used to taste bitter 20-30 years ago do not taste bitter anymore. But we need a certain amount of this taste. So the herbal spirits are of growing in importance to rebalance our taste buds.”

Stefan Berg at The Bitter Truth agrees. “The past decade has seen tremendous growth in the bitters segment,” he says.

“Twelve years ago, when we started making bitters, there was little to nothing available and there was certainly no excitement about bitters at all. It all accelerated after 2007 when awareness of bitters use has spread and more companies started making them.

“What followed was a kind of avalanche of bitters makers (mainly US based and using food channels for distribution). Meanwhile it has become quite crowded on the shelfs.

“I think it’s fair to say that in 2017 hardly any bar making cocktails has fewer than three types of bitters. More specialised places will hold far more – some stock up to 20 or 30 different types.

“The future will be bright and fantastic. The next generation is hungry and waiting. They will shape new, exciting drinks and they will use bitters as if they have been around for ever, and were never gone.”

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Nick Strangeway

Bar food's blurred lines

Once upon a time pubs and bars were somewhere you went with the sole purpose of getting pissed and there wasn’t a knife and fork in sight, just a packet of dry roasted nuts.