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DRINKS // Bitters

An Employees Only cocktail

Tiny but mighty

An Employees Only manhattan

Bitters are often the smallest component of a cocktail in volumetric terms, but they pack a punch well above their paygrade. WORDS Madeline Woolway

IN RESPONSE TO a reader’s letter, the

it’s a little bit sweet, but the bitterness

Repository wrote in 1806 that a cocktail

sweetness and keeps you drinking more.

editor of The Balance, and Columbian consisted of four elements: spirits,

water, sugar and bitters. But according

to Employees Only’s Robert Krueger, it’s

launched in 2004, choices were limited.

The bitters are the punctuation — they’re

and a company called Fee Brothers,”

the thing that lingers.”

not that simple anymore. “The term has

While there are now countless varieties

cocktail,” says Krueger. “Bitters are in the

Peychaud’s Bitters are essential, along with

broadened from the original definition of definition of a cocktail, though.”

Bitters aren’t just in the definition;

available, for Krueger, Angostura and orange bitters.

Andrea Gualdi of Maybe Frank and

they’re often the defining element. Bitters

Maybe Sammy in Sydney agrees. “Aromatic

only by the dash, but they can change the

classic cocktails,” he says. “The classics

may be the smallest component, used

character of a drink for better or worse.

The pocket rocket behind many classics, from the old fashioned and the sazerac

to the Manhattan, bitters are responsible for a well-balanced cocktail. “Take the

Manhattan,” says Krueger. “On the whole, 20 | Hospitality

When Employees Only New York

is the finish. It’s what balances out the

bitters are a must have, especially for

“We could get Angostura, Peychaud’s

says Krueger. “Over the next five years,

boutique bitters operations opened up all over the globe.”

Using bitters to their potential has

always required a deft touch — just a dash can be the difference between success and

failure. The introduction of new variations has both opened doors for bartenders and complicated the world of mixology.

Making the most of aromatic bitters

we use are Angostura and Peychaud’s.

comes down to a combination of strong

celery and orange, of course. If you want

experimentation. Krueger’s advice? “I say

Then we have grapefruit bitters, coffee,

to have a bar, you at least need Angostura, Peychaud’s and orange bitters. Everything else is a plus.”

foundational knowledge and fearless

grab a range of different bitters that pique

your interest. Take one cocktail and split it

up into multiple glasses and treat each one

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Hospitality March 2019