If you’ve been to a bar in the last 6 months, you may have noticed one of the most recent bar trends: classic cocktails. Not coincidentally, this movement has coincided with the recent bitters revival, and you won’t hear many complaining. It’s about time this magical dash of flavor made a comeback.A little history Once used to ease digestive ailments, bitters are now more commonly used to ease sobriety. Cocktail bitters reached its popularity peak around the turn of the century, but almost vanished during the Prohibition era. Once essential for a Manhattan or Old Fashioned, bitters went underground with the rest of alcohol for a while. The recent resurrection of bitters is a testament to its distinct powers as a flavor enhancer. What it’s made of
In essence, bitters are a blend of herbs, spices, fruits and roots that are infused into a grain alcohol (i.e. Everclear). The process is delicate and time-consuming; many bitters can take months to prepare if you want them to come out right. Here is a great blog on how to make your own.What has been driving this bitters trend? Bitter taste is an evolutionary trait that warns us of potentially poisonous food; when we taste something bitter, a warning signal is sent to our brain that what we are consuming could be dangerous. Enter: the thrill of bitters. When mixed properly, bitters enhance and compliment the flavors of what it’s being added to. Orange bitters are the most classic and popular of these magic potions, but make sure you keep your eyes peeled for celery and Mexican mole bitters in 2012 (think Bloody Marys and tequila cocktails).
One duo that has been moving the bitters trend along is Nick Kosevich and Ira Kopolwitz, founders of Bittercube bitters. The team is currently working on the beverage program for Eat Street Social, which is set to open on 26th and Nicollet on New Years Eve (Thanks for the clarification, Nick!). As this is next door to yours truly, I expect to make my way through their much-hyped cocktail list, which includes an old-fashioned soda fountain with housemade syrups. I can’t wait to see what they concoct with their Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters…check back for an update!