Bitters-Based Cocktails for Curing the Winter Blues

By Annie Wu, Epoch Times
December 21, 2016 6:54 pm Last Updated: March 12, 2018 4:57 pm

During this time of the year, indulgent eating calls for bitters. These extracts of botanicals and herbs, steeped in spirits, were traditionally prepared as tonics to aid digestion and improve health. Today, they’re incorporated into cocktails to add a dose of complexity and depth.

Sother Teague employs these robust concoctions at the East Village bar and “bitters tasting room” Amor y Amargo (the name means Love and Bitters in Spanish), where he serves as beverage director.

Barman Sother Teague. (Courtesy of Sother Teague)
Barman Sother Teague. (Courtesy of Sother Teague)

He has at his disposal about 200 amaros and more than 250 tinctures for developing cocktails with multilayered flavors.

Teague was a chef for 12 years, so when he started bartending, he was naturally drawn to the savory drinks—like those mixed with bitters and amari. 

We turned to Teague for suggestions on using bitters this season, as well as some cocktail recipes.

Epoch Times: As we approach the holiday season and all that it entails—cold weather, heavy meals, lots of parties—what bitters do you recommend using in drinks?

Sother Teague: Cold winters typically demand darker bitters. Earthy tones are soothing. Angostura, Scrappy’s chocolate bitters, AZ Bitters Lab’s figgy pudding [with notes of cinnamon, clove, cardamom, figs, and currants] all jump to mind.

Amor y Amargo's collection of bitters and tinctures. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
Amor y Amargo’s collection of bitters and tinctures. (Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Epoch Times: Would you recommend any bitters for medicinal purposes, like treating wintertime colds?

Mr. Teague: I rarely leave home in cold months without a few bottles of Underberg in my pocket. It toes the line between tincture and potable. Use it in drinks or just knock it back. It’s basically medicine.

Epoch Times: What bitters are you into right now?

Mr. Teague: There’s a [new company] in California called BarMatt. He’s got some great flavors like hibiscus or Japanese chili that are challenging us at the bar. Also, I’m very fond of 18.21 from Atlanta, particularly their Havana&Hide flavor [aged in charred oak barrels] at this time of year. Smiley with hints of leather.

Orchard in Manhattan

The Orchard in Manhattan bitters cocktail served at Amor y Amargo
(Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)

Introduction

Cognac and Cocchi bring grapes; apple brandy and apple bitters add apple; Becherovka adds cinnamon and clove; then there’s an orange twist! All the flavors of the orchard are present in this glass.

Ingredients

  • 2 dashes of Bar Keep apple bitters
  • 0.25 ounce Becherovka liqueur
  • 0.75 ounce Cocchi Americano
  • 0.75 ounce Louis Royer Force 53 cognac
  • 0.75 ounce Laird’s apple brandy
  • 1 orange twist

Directions

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass and top with plenty of ice. Stir to chill and dilute. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice. Express the oil from an orange twist over the drink and place in glass. Enjoy!

Pumpernickel

The Pumpernickel bitters cocktail served at Amor y Amargo bar in the East Village of Manhattan.
(Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
 
Introduction

My dear friend Ari would often pour us shots of Rittenhouse [rye whiskey] and 14 dashes of angostura bitters. Spicy and gripping! He called it pumpernickel because it was dark rye. I’ve stretched the drink out and included elements of spice from Ramazzotti as well as the bitterness and body of Punt e Mes to create a black Manhattan of sorts. Either way, it remains a dark and spicy rye.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 ounces 100 percent rye whiskey
  • 0.75 ounce Ramazzotti Amaro
  • 0.5 ounces Punt e Mes vermouth
  • 7 dashes angostura bitters
  • 1 lemon twist

Directions

Stir with plenty of ice to chill and dilute. Strain into a chilled glass and express the oil from a lemon twist over the drink. Discard the twist. Enjoy!

Get Cozy

The Get Cozy bitters hot cocktail served at Amor y Amargo bar in the East Village of Manhattan.
(Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
 
Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Montenegro
  • 0.75 ounce hot tea (use your favorite kind)
  • 0.5 ounce ginger syrup
  • 0.25 ounce lemon juice
  • 2 dashes of 18.21 Ginger Lemon Tincture

Directions

Pour all the ingredients into a teacup or coffee mug. Wrap yourself in a blanket and get cozy.

Ginger Snap

Ginger Snap bitters cocktail served at Amor y Amargo bar in the East Village of Manhattan.
(Benjamin Chasteen/Epoch Times)
 
Ingredients

  • 2 dashes of 18.21 Ginger Lemon Tincture
  • 0.5 ounce Jelinek Fernet liqueur
  • 0.5 ounce Gran Classico bitters
  • 1 ounce Black Bottle whisky
  • 1 lemon twist

Directions

Build in a single rocks glass. Fill with large ice and stir. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Recipes courtesy of Sother Teague