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Simply put, bitters are flavours suspended in alcohol.
Bitters usually contain a combination of botanical essences - traditionally herbs, spices, flowers, barks and roots which are steeped in alcohol to create a complex ‘bittering’ liquid to be added to drinks with the aim of balancing out sweetness. In fact, the original ‘cocktail’ was a simple blend of a spirit, water, sugar, bitters and a garnish – an approach that inspired Bob’s focus on single-ingredient bitters.
Folklore portrays bitters as potent health tonics with cooling, anti-inflammatory, liver-protecting properties – miracle tinctures to revitalise and restore. Poetic license? Perhaps. But there is some sense in that sentiment.
Our bodies respond positively to bitter flavours.
When the tongue detects a bitter taste a chain reaction is produced, stimulating and strengthening the function of the digestive organs while awakening the appetite. Hence the tradition of slightly bitter pre-prandial aperitif drinks.
Traditional bitters like Angostura or Peychauds have multifaceted flavours using secret blends of spices and botanicals.
Bob’s Bitters are different
His chef background lends a culinary perspective to the process. The resulting products make it possible to add a single flavour to a cocktail in a controlled way, adding a bittersweet liquorice note to a Bourbon Sazerac for example, a herbal coriander twist to a Bloody Mary or, indeed, a sweet lavender note to a Pisco Sour or a classic Margarita.
Bob’s deep understanding of flavour combinations mean that many of his single-note bitters can also be combined, producing layers of harmonising taste. Naturally, Bob’s Chocolate Bitters blend beautifully with Bob’s Orange & Mandarin Bitters for a classic citrus twist. Bob also recommends mingling his Grapefruit Bitters with his Ginger Bitters to add a sparkling zing to a simple gin cocktail. And sweetly fragrant Lavender is a perfect companion for the heady warmth of Bob’s Vanilla Bitters.
Bob’s Bitters allows you to add a bittering note appropriate to a particular flavour within a cocktail
Simon Difford, Difford’s Guide