If you are either one of the regulars here, you know that a Manhattan is a favorite here. We have even posted an entire article on making a Manhattan. One of the crucial ingredients is bitters. If you have enjoyed a Manhattan at a fancy bar or before dinner and wondered why your Manhattans at home don't taste the same way, the answer is probably that you don't have any bitters in the drink.
Below are some pictures of a great travel set of bitters that is available in Virginia ABC stores and online at retailers like Amazon. This set is around $20 in Virginia and about the same online. Scroll down for a review of what your $20 will get you.
You get five little 20 ml bottles of bitters in the travel set. For some people, this might be a lifetime supply.
Starting from right to left, here is what you get:
- Aromatic bitters - These are great in a Manhattan and mimic the classics bitters out there, like angostura.
- Orange bitters - Take the aromatic and hit it with a punch of orange flavor. These are also great in a Manhattan without being radical.
- Creole bitters - Only so-so in a Manhattan. These really are for other drinks like a Sazerac, but we don''t drink those here.
- Celery bitters - We have not tried these yet, but sound like something you should have in a Bloody Mary
- Jerry Thomas' Own Decanter bitters - These are variation on the classic aromatic, and make an excellent addition to a Manhattan. This is extra good if the sweet vermouth is a little on the gentle side because these bitters can add a little more punch to the drink than something like the Aromatic bitters.
We usually get asked the best way to use bitters. The first suggestion is to just take off the lid and take a little smell. If the aroma is something that just works with your drink, shake a drop or two in and enjoy. If you are not that adventurous we suggest using google and searching for some drink recipes, or going over to the Bitter Truth website and seeing what they suggest. Don't be afraid to experiment.