Bitters: The What and The Why

There’s an awful lot to know about the curious and storied world of bitters. We’re excited to do the research and sampling for you in the coming weeks and share what we’ve learned, a dash at a time. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the countless ways that bitters can spice up all that flows from your pantry—beyond the world of original cocktail recipes, we’ll also introduce you to incorporating bitters in your sweets and savories from chocolate truffles to soups. Stay tuned!

Let’s start our bitters journey with a brief and piquant history . . .

Tantalizing Tastes: In The Savory Pantry, good taste always comes first. Bitters result from infusing high octane spirits with an array of barks, roots, herbs, botanicals, fruits, and spices. The result is a concentrated and pleasantly pungent rush to the tongue, which is why they are meant to be used in splashes and dashes. For a sauce corollary, think of the rich result of making a reduction and how that adds depth and intrigue to your dish. With only five basic taste sensations in the human palate (bitter, sour, sweet, salty, and umami), it sure would be a shame to live without fully appreciating one! Perhaps bitter has gotten an unfairly bad rap—we certainly seek to avoid “bitter” individuals—but we think you’ll see after some exploration of this underappreciated taste sensation, bitter can be better!

Healing Elixir or Snake Oil? Bitters got their start being touted as cure-all elixirs, said especially to promote healthy digestion (a benefit that some still claim today, and about which there is abundant reading online). They could be spotted at soda fountains, where they would be combined with soda water by a soda jerk and used to disguise the liquid medicines dispensed by the often adjoining pharmacy. Prohibition nearly wiped out bitters, save a few commercial brands, but as the interest in classic cocktails has experienced resurgence, makers are crafting splashy twists on the bitters of yore. Many bitters still salute their colorful past with their apothecary-reminiscent wrappings. 

Thanks to its growing popularity, there are bitters to interest every palate, since of course what creates the best tastes is a complex and individual answer. Here at The Savory Pantry, we have a dozen available flavors ranging from whiskey-barrel aged to rhubarb to sarsaparilla, so you can select those most appealing to you.

Queue up your bitter buds and prepare to join us on a bitter adventure!

Shop this article > Bar 40 Bitters, Fee Brothers, Classic Old Fashioned Kit, Hudson Standard, Pink House Alchemy

Print Friendly and PDF

Recipe: Sweet Tea Cocktail

Bright and refreshing, this is a perfect drink for welcoming warmer weather!  The lightness of this cocktail makes it perfect for serving with a meal.  Throwing a Mother's Day luncheon?  Serve sweet tea cocktails along with a buffet of springtime food favorites on a picnic table and set the mood for Mom!

Sweet Tea Cocktails |

Sweet Tea Cocktail

Fill a glass with ice.  Add the gin, Owl's Brew and lemon juice.  Top with club soda and stir gently.  Garnish with a lemon wheel and spring of mint.


Sweet Tea Cocktails |
Sweet Tea Cocktails |

Start with a glass of ice - we used mason jars.  Add 1.5 oz of Hendrick's gin.  The subtle cucumber flavor of this gin works especially well.

Sweet Tea Cocktails |
Sweet Tea Cocktails |

Add 1 oz. of the Owl's Brew and .5 oz. freshly squeezed lemon juice.

Sweet Tea Cocktails |
Sweet Tea Cocktails |

Top with club soda stir gently.  Garnish with a lemon wheel and a sprig of fresh mint.  Sip and savor!

Sweet Tea Cocktails |
Sweet Tea Cocktails |
Print Friendly and PDF

Derby Days: The Preakness

Steeped in tradition, The Preakness Stakes is the second leg of The Triple Crown.  First run in 1873, this storied race has been run every year since 1909 at Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course.    

Baltimore is a food lover's paradise, and, being on The Chesapeake Bay, crab is abundant!  Our Preakness celebrations always include Maryland Blue Crab Dip.  Our favorite recipe is adapted from The Brown-Eyed Baker.  If available, use fresh backfin Maryland Blue crab!  

Derby Days: The Preakness |


"Bianca" Hat from Christine A. Moore Millinery - The Official Milliner of The Breeder's Cup! CLICK HERE to visit Christine's website and view her stunning collection of extraordinary race day hats!


The blanket of Black-Eyed Susan's that adorns the winner's neck is the inspiration for the official race-day cocktail, The Black Eyed Susan. The drink, unlike the flower, is always in season!

Black Eyed Susan

(the official cocktail of The Preakness)

  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup crushed ice

  • 1 ounce vodka

  • 1 ounce light rum

  • 1/2 ounce Triple Sec

  • 2 ounces unsweetened pineapple juice

  • 2 ounces orange juice

  • Lime slice and pitted sweet dark cherry (we love these Woodford Cherries)

Place desired amount of ice in a rocks glass. Pour vodka, rum, Triple Sec and juices into glass. Stir; serve with a lime slice and cherry.

Print Friendly and PDF

Turn this Cocktail Recipe into a Gift

Take gift-giving from predictable to unexpected, when you give a cocktail kit!  Throw a few of the basic ingredients into a cocktail shaker, or fill a basket with everything needed to make The Gnat's Whistle recipe we shared last week.  Great for a hostess gift, wedding gift, or just for anyone who likes a good drink!

1.  Cocktail Strainer  2. Fresh Lemons  3. India Tree Superfine Caster Sugar  4. Cocktail Shaker  5. Rocks Glass  6. Bathtub Gin Jim Limoncello Strawberry Jam  7. Fresh Strawberries  8. Your favorite Scotch Whisky  9. Basket or container

Print Friendly and PDF

Pinterest Roundup: Jam Based Cocktails

Who doesn’t have a stash of jams in the fridge or pantry for smearing on toast, biscuits and scones? Now imagine infusing cocktails with your favorite jam flavors!

Whether you’re throwing a cocktail party or unwinding in the evening with a drink on the patio, we love the jam-infused cocktail trend and hope that it’s here to stay. In keeping with our theme, we’ve gathered our favorite jam-infused recipes from Pinterest. Try these or get inspired to create your own versions to sip, savor, and SHARE!

Print Friendly and PDF