These days, bartenders in busy bars are as prominent as chefs, and most use bitters liberally in their cocktail creations. One drop makes a big difference, and two elevate a drink from ordinary to extraordinary.
Cocktail bitters are as vital on a bartender’s back bar as a chef’s seasoning assortment. Some bartenders are so enthusiastic about bitters that they make their own secret-recipe versions.
Bitters have been used in cocktails for a long time, and now are popular enough for several manufacturers to produce their own line of bitters. Some are liqueur manufacturers (De Kuyper, the Netherlands, comes to mind), others are distillers (Angostura from Trinidad and Tobago), and yet others specialize in bitters and sauces.
For the longest while in North America, Angostura Bitters was the only brand bartenders would use. In the U.S.A, every state regulates the distribution of bitters as some contain alcohol, and may be sold in grocery stores as food. Underage people make use of this and try to get drunk on such concoctions.
Bitter Truth is a new company specializing in bitters ad makes a range of them (aromatic-, orange-, creole-, peach-, tonic- chocolate-, lemon-, grapefruit- bitters). Elmegirab is another company specializing in bitters derived from island fruits, aromatic leaves, and coffee. Americans love cocktails, and when they travel, patronize bars demanding their favourite cocktails.
Producers of bitters export to several Asian countries catering to the tourist trade.
For many, bitters have medicinal value, and use them to cure ailments. Angostura Bitters was created by a German doctor in Venezuela to cure wounds and other tropical diseases afflicting soldiers. If you happen to suffer from stomach problems drop five or six drops of Angostura Bitters a glass of water and drink it.