In the second episode of The Cocktail, we talk about bitters and make an Old Fashioned.
2 oz whiskey
.5 oz simple syrup
3 dashes Angostura bitters
Build drink in a rocks glass with a large ice cube. Stir. Express orange peel and drop into glass.
Bitters are indelibly wrapped up with cocktails. In fact, the first time the word cocktail appeared in print, in The Balance and Columbian Repository in 1806, it was defined as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.”
Bitters are made by infusing alcohol with herbs, spices, and other botanicals. They were originally used as tonics to help with digestion, illnesses, and other ailments. Today, they’re used as a modifier in cocktails to impart light bitterness or add notes of fruit, coffee, or other flavors. Depending on how you use them, bitters can ground, enhance, or uplift the flavors already present in a cocktail.
An Old Fashioned is a perfect example of how bitters can elevate a cocktail. Just a few dashes lend a complex flavor to an otherwise very simple drink.