Bitters are herbal infusions often found in fancy craft cocktails, but they also have a long history of being used quasi-medicinally to aid digestion. Many Italians, for instance, wouldn’t dream of eating a big meal without finishing it off with a few sips of Fernet-Branca or another digestif. (Anyone having fond memories of Sunday supper with the Italian side of the fam?) The mixture of herbs, roots, flowers, spices, and alcohol in bitters is believed to keep digestion running smoothly. Bitters don’t have to be kept behind the bar, though. These days, you’re just as likely to find digestive bitters in the medicine cabinet, being used as holistic tonics to support digestion or relieve mild nausea.
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DIY Bitters: Reviving the Forgotten Flavor - A Guide to Making Your Own Bitters for Bartenders, Cocktail Enthusiasts, Herbalists, and More
Used since the Middle Ages, bitters are made by combining various plant botanicals and/or spices with 100-proof alcohol and letting them sit until the bitter and medicinal qualities have been extracted. Just a small amount of the resulting liquid can then be used to stimulate the digestive system and promote healthy digestion. This is why "apertifs" and "digestifs" are so popular--both then and now! DIY Bitters is a how-to guide that explores the history and health benefits of bitters, and shows you how to make your own bitters at home, to be used alone or in cocktails, tonics, and even main meals. Herbalists Jovial King and Guido Mase, owners of the bitters company Urban Moonshine, teach you how to make recipes for classic bitters like orange and angostura, or explore more innovative bitters like elderflower-echinacea-honey and chocolate love tonic. You can even find a guide for creating your own unique flavors from the plants and ingredients you have on hand. Whether enjoyed as an apertif, digestif, or as a remedy to settle an upset stomach, bitters are back!