You've heard of Angostura. Maybe you've heard of Peychaud's. Well, forget them. Because there's a brand new, brilliant British bitters that will make you totally rethink your drink.
WHAT ARE BITTERS?
Bitters are to cocktails what salt and pepper is to food. These smart concentrates of herbs, botanicals and spices enhance and balance the different flavours in a drink - providing a bitter yet aromatic twist that takes a simple drink from "hmm" to "MMMMM!!" (You can find out more about bitters in our handy guide).
What makes Bitter Union bitters extra special is down to their hand-crafted nature. These small-batch concoctions are a truly artisan product and each batch takes a month to make. Ingredients are prepared by husband and wife team Tom and Lucy in their kitchen. This means peeling lemons, measuring spices and taste-testing is all carefully done by hand.
BITTER UNION BITTERS
Unlike other high-sugar bitters with additives, colourings and flavourings, Bitter Union uses all-natural ingredients, and no added sugar. They infuse high-proof alcohol with different aromatic ingredients, making sure to extract and mature at different stages to get just the right blend.
Bitter Union use 15 natural botanicals and getting them to work together is "like conducting an orchestra". Tom uses the metaphor well when discussing the role of the botanicals in each of the Bitter Union variants: "They all have a part to play, but you don't want any one overpowering the flavour and the final drink that you mix it with."
The brand have released three bitters to get you started - just a few dashes will transform simple drinks and cocktails into bar-standard tipples. Here's how!
Tasting Notes: Notes of sour cherry, vanilla, cinnamon and clove, give this bitters a slightly sweet, fruity and subtly spiced flavour. The bitterness is due to Gentian root, an alpine plant that is foraged in the Pyrenees. It is initially sweet then followed by intense bitterness and uses the base spirit of bourbon.
Add it to: Rum and coke, Whisky Sours, Lemonade (for an adult-take on a soft drink) and even Coffee.
Signature Serve: OLD FASHIONED COCKTAIL
- 50ml whisky - 1 tsp caster sugar - 4-5 dashes Bitter Union No. 1 Aromatic Bitters - 1 orange - Large ice cubes
Add the sugar and bitters to a glass along with a splash of hot water. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and let it cool a little. Add the whisky, ice and stir again. Cut a piece of orange peel (about the size of your thumb) and twist it over the glass to add a spritz of orange oil to the surface of your drink. Drop the peel into your drink and stir once more.
Tasting Notes: Orange, ginger, star anise and cardamon give this bitters a complex, deep and spiced flavour. The bitterness is from Cinchona bark, which is from a South American tree originally used by Spanish Conquistadors as a source of the anti-malarial quinine! It provides a deep, long lasting flavour.
Add it to: Whisky on the rocks, Amaretto, Old Fashioned style cocktails, and Hot Chocolate!
Signature Serve: SPICED ORANGE G&T
- 50ml gin - Tonic water - 4-5 dashes of Bitter Union Spiced Orange bitters - Pomegranate seeds - Twist of orange - Ice
Add all the ingredients to your glass over ice and stir. Garnish with a sprig of thyme or rosemary.
Tasting Notes: Notes of lemon, hops, herbs and lemongrass provide a refreshing, delicate and slightly floral flavour. The bitterness is from Artemisia Absinthum; the clue is in the name as this is the source of the bitterness and green colouring in absinthe. Hops from the Apollo variety are also used for a combination of bitterness and floral flavour - beautifully balanced.
Add it to: Prosecco (all sparkling wine and Champagne!), Vodka Tonic, tonic with cucumber ribbons, Green Tea or even Earl Grey tea.
Signature Serve: LEMON & HERB GIN SOUR
- 50ml gin - 1/2 egg white - 25ml sugar syrup - 25 ml lemon juice - 4-5 dashes of Bitter Union Lemon, Hop & Herb bitters - Ice
Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice for about a minute. Strain into a coupe glass with a few more dashes of bitters to garnish.