Way back in the day (like hundreds or thousands of years), botanists would combine roots, fruits, botanical and seeds, and distill it in alcohol in an effort to cure medical ailments. Eventually, it grew from something you’d sip on as medicine to providing exceptional flavor in your favorite cocktail.
This can best be compared to vanilla extract, which is also often very high in alcohol content, but is also used in super low amounts. That’s why we buy vanilla extract in the grocery aisle as opposed to the spirit section.
After searching the web and sending a few emails, I’ve found some 100 percent non- alcoholic bitters that are guaranteed to spice up your craft mocktails! Dram carries herbal non- alcoholic bitters in a variety of flavors, like citrus, lavender lemon and sage.
As an idea, try experimenting with Dram by making a virgin Manhattan with their Hair of the Dog bitters. I haven’t personally tried Stirrings blood orange non- alcoholic bitters, but it sounds delicious.
Urban Moonshine is an apothecary company that makes bitters for medicinal purposes. While most of their bitters contain some alcohol, they created a non- alcoholic bitters with an apple cider vinegar base.
Depending on which mocktail you’re making, a little apple cider vinegar can add the right amount of flavor! Our non- alcoholic Garden Party mocktail calls for a cucumber and lemon shrub, which requires vinegar to make.
As just mentioned, some cocktail bitters are glycerin-based, like Fee Brother’s and Packard, but derive their alcohol content from flavoring. So, even though the base is glycerin, which is a colorless plant-based liquid, the alcohol content comes from the flavoring extraction process.
Glycerin is a texturizing agent that traps oils and prevent slouching, which is when alcohol and water mix to create a cloudy liquid. So, some cocktail bitters companies use glycerin to better preserve the oils, flavoring, and the combination of alcohol and water.
As I mentioned earlier, while all bitters (unless specifically noted as non- alcoholic) contain a high ABV, you’ll only use a dash or two in your cocktail. So if you’re ok with a tiny little of alcohol in your drink, then feel free to continue to use your favorite bitters.
If you’re ok with adding a couple of drops of alcoholic bitters to your mocktail, then this “top 5” is a great place to start! After doing some thorough research, I’ve found a few options to play around with and even a couple bitters alternatives.
For this post we will only briefly cover alcohol classification and not go into any detail on the additional regulations from the FDA. If you are interested in learning more about beverage alcohol or have specific questions, take a look at the TT’s FAQ page via the link below.
When you make bitters according to the TT’s guidelines and want to sell it to the public, it will fall under this category as a non-beverage product. When a company uses alcohol to produce or manufacture things like food, flavor extracts, medicine, perfume or fuel they have to submit a formula and often a sample of their product to the Non-Beverage Products Laboratory of the TT.
The lab then reviews the formula and tests the sample to deem it unfit for beverage purposes. If the formula is approved, the manufacturer can then submit a claim on the distilled spirits excise tax they paid when buying the alcohol.
When submitting a bitter formula to the TT, they evaluate the levels of all the ingredients used in the product. There are specific guidelines on how much of an ingredient you need to add in order to deem your product unfit for beverage purposes.
There is also a list of banned ingredients that you can't add to ensure your product is still safe for human consumption. On paper bitters are much closer to pure vanilla or orange extract, than whiskey, vodka or beer.
Numerous longstanding brands of bitters were originally developed as patent medicines, but now are sold as digestives, sometimes with herbal properties, and cocktail flavorings. The botanical ingredients used in preparing bitters have historically consisted of aromatic herbs, bark, roots, and/or fruit for their flavor and medicinal properties.
Some of the more common ingredients are cascara, cassia, gentian, orange peel, and cinchona bark. This 1883 advertisement promised help with a variety of ailments. The origins of bitters go back to the ancient Egyptians, who may have infused medicinal herbs in jars of wine.
This practice was further developed during the Middle Ages, when the availability of distilled alcohol coincided with a renaissance in pharmacology, which made possible more-concentrated herbal bitters and tonic preparations. Many of the brands and styles of digestive bitters today reflect herbal stomach and tonic preparations whose roots are claimed to be traceable back to Renaissance -era pharmacopoeia and traditions.
In 1824, German physician Johann Gottlieb Benjamin Sievert compounded a cure for sea sickness and stomach maladies, among other medicinal uses. Trace quantities of quinine are still included as a flavoring in tonic water, which is used today mostly in drinks with gin.
Pioneering biologist Jerry Thomas was largely responsible for an increase in the popularity of bitters in the United States when he released How to Mix Drinks or The Bons vivants's Companion in 1862. Digestive bitters are typically consumed in many European and South American countries either neat or with ice at the end of a meal.
After the talk I had a nice chat with Camille Vidal of La Madison Wellness, who has also been thinking about the impact of bitters. We also know that some food products like bananas and orange juice and even bread can have tiny percentages of alcohol in them.
According to Don Lee, 41 dashes equals one liquid ounce. I decided to say we're adding 2 dashes or 1.5 ml of alcoholic bitters to a non- alcoholic drink.
For a five ounce cocktail with 2 dashes of bitters = 1.5ml X 45% / 150 ml = .0045 = .45 percent First Conclusion : If you want to make a cocktail that's legally non- alcoholic with 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, the cocktail must be 5 ounces in volume and contain no other alcohol.
Final Boss Conclusion: If you wanted to serve legally non- alcoholic (<.5%) cocktails with bitters, you can Use non- alcoholic bitters, such as the ones from Dram Apothecary Make sure the drink is at least 5 ounces (including dilution) in volume for cocktails with 2 dashes of bitters If you want to make the drink with a non- alcoholic spirit base like Seed lip, dial down the bitters to one dash or leave them out to stay within the legal limit if your drink is 5 oz or less.
The answer to this question varies because lots of different liquors fall under the category of bitters. There are awards like Ferret that we drink straight at the end of a meal as a digest if, or vials of Packard’s and Angostura bitters that we used to add flavor and complexity to cocktails such as an Old Fashioned or a Several.
Bitters like Angostura are made by taking a high-proof spirit and infusing it with herbs, fruits, roots, and other spices. The result is a strongly flavored concoction that only takes a few drops to add complexity to a cocktail.
Bitters are 44 percent alcohol, but you’d have to drink a good amount of them to actually feel a buzz. In a few cocktail bars around the country, it’s become trendy for bartenders to take a half-ounce shot of Angostura at the end of a shift, instead of the traditional Ferret.
But for the most part, as long as high-proof spirits are stored in a cool, dry location, they’ll last forever. A general rule with Baileys is that you should consume it within two years of opening the bottle, and you should keep it in the freezer or fridge to maintain its freshness.