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Are Bitter Cocktails Better? These 4 Will Convince You

By: Shireen Jamooji

bitter cocktails

When you say bitter, that doesn’t always conjure up images of the most appealing foods or flavours. However, when it comes to cocktails, bitterness can actually be an asset. A good cocktail is built entirely on balance. Where the mixers, alcohol, garnishes and any additional flavours are all working in harmony to create a sip that is perfect from start to finish. 

How Does Bitterness Enhance A Cocktail?
Incorporating bitterness into a sweet beverage doesn't radically alter its taste. Instead, it subtly diminishes the sweetness, enabling other flavours to come to the forefront and claim a spot of their own. The addition of bitterness creates a nuanced and distinctive profile. Conduct a side-by-side taste comparison using a well-known cocktail recipe that leans towards the more bitter profile. Prepare one with the bitters or bittering factors and another without, and it will quickly become clear that bitterness has quite a substantial role to play.

4 Bitter Cocktails To Try

negroni

Negroni

An absolutely classic concoction, the Negroni combines equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari. The bitterness from the Campari is balanced by the herbal notes of vermouth and the botanicals in gin. Garnish with an orange twist for a touch of citrus.

Ingredients:

30 ml Tanqueray No. Ten Gin
30 ml Campari
30 ml Sweet Vermouth
Garnish: Orange twist

Method: Stir ingredients over ice, strain into a glass with ice, and garnish with an orange twist.

Americano

A lighter option, the Americano mixes Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda water. The effervescence of the soda water dilutes the bitterness, resulting in a refreshing beverage. Garnish with an orange slice for added zest.

Ingredients:

30 ml Campari
30 ml Sweet Vermouth
Soda water
Garnish: Orange slice

Method: Build Campari and vermouth in a glass with ice, top with soda water, and garnish with an orange slice.

boulevardier

Irish Boulevardier

For a twist on the classic Negroni, try the Boulevardier. It substitutes blended whisky for gin, bringing a rich and slightly sweet note to the drink. The bitterness from Campari and the warmth of bourbon create a sophisticated balance.

Ingredients:

30 ml Johnnie Walker Black Label
30 ml Campari
30 ml Sweet Vermouth
Garnish: Orange twist

Method: Stir ingredients with ice, strain into a glass with ice, and garnish with an orange twist.

Gin And Tonic

Gin And Tonic With A Twist

Notoriously dependent on a touch of natural bitterness, gin and tonics are both fresh and enticing. By adding a splash of fresh grapefruit juice, you can up the fruity quotient of your G&T and lean into the bitter notes. 

Ingredients:

50 ml Gordon's London Dry Gin
100 ml Tonic Water
10 ml Grapefruit Juice

Method: Pour gin and tonic over ice, add grapefruit juice, and stir gently. Garnish with a wedge of grapefruit.