Save Big On Open-Box & Pre-owned: Buy "Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All,...” from Amazon Warehouse Deals and save 34% off the $24.99 list price. Product is eligible for Amazon's 30-day returns policy and Prime or FREE Shipping. See all Open-Box & Pre-owned offers from Amazon Warehouse Deals.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All, with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas Hardcover – November 1, 2011
|New from||Used from|
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Special Offers and Product Promotions
Featured Recipes from Bitters
The Horse's Neck
Called "the great what-is-it of the Highball tribe" by David A. Embury in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, the Horse's Neck started as a nonalcoholic drink in the 1890s, but the addition of whiskey, bourbon, rye, brandy, scotch, or even gin brought a spirited kick to this refreshing highball. The drink, per Embury, "degenerated" into a nonalcoholic beverage once again during Prohibition. Bourbon and ginger ale is one of my favorite marriages of spirit and mixer, so that is recommended here.
The garnish is achieved by positioning one continuous spiral of zest from a whole lemon so that it is flapping over the glass's edge, invoking the silhouette of a horse's mane. Personally, the lemon corkscrew puts me in the mind of a pig's tail, but I suppose the Pig's Tail isn't as elegant a name as the Horse's Neck.
Makes 1 drink
- 1 lemon
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- Ginger ale
Carefully peel the zest from the lemon in one continuous spiral with a channel knife. Coil the zest around a barspoon or chopstick to encourage a bouncy spiral.
Place the lemon zest in the bottom of a chilled highball glass, hanging the end of the coiled garnish over the side of the glass. Fill the glass with ice.
Add the bourbon and bitters and top off with ginger ale.
The Autumn Sweater
We could slip away
Wouldn't that be better?
The bittersweet lyrics of "Autumn Sweater," from Yo La Tengo's 1997 album, I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One, serve as the source material for this melancholy change-of-season shoegazer. Serve it over a large block of ice, or over an ice sphere--even better to evoke a fat harvest moon hanging in the nighttime sky.
Made in Sicily since 1868, Averna is a syrupy, bitter herbal liqueur. It isn't overpowering, though, and is a great gateway amaro if you're interested in exploring potable bitters. Amaro Nonino is another mild Italian digestif whose caramel color and warm, spicy burnt orange notes round out the full fall flavors here. Wrap yourself in an Autumn Sweater and embrace what the season has in store for you.
Makes 1 drink
- 1 ounce rye
- 1/2 ounce Averna
- 1/2 ounce Amaro Nonino
- 1/2 ounce maple syrup
- 1 dash Urban Moonshine maple bitters
- 1 dash orange bitters
- Garnish: thick clove-studded strip of orange zest
Combine all the ingredients except the garnish in a mixing glass filled with ice and stir until chilled. Add a large sphere of ice to a chilled double old-fashioned and strain the drink into the glass.
For the garnish, use a paring knife to slice a thick strip of zest from an orange. Twist it over the drink to release the essential oils and rub along the rim of the glass. Stud the orange zest with two whole cloves and drape it over the ice sphere.
Is there anything more festive than hearing the soft pop of a cork coming out of a bottle of Champagne? That's an aural cue for celebration in my book, and while Champagne is wonderful on its own, adding a sugary, bitters-soaked kiss to the equation elevates the experience tenfold. Four to six dashes of bitters should do the trick, but you really want to soak the sugar cube, which, once the Champagne is introduced, will leave a fizzy stream of bitters pushing up through the glass.
Makes 1 drink
- 1 sugar cube
- 4 to 6 dashes Angostura or other aromatic bitters
- Chilled champagne
- Garnish: lemon twist
Place the sugar cube on the bottom of a champagne flute or coupe glass. Douse the sugar cube with the bitters and fill the glass with champagne. Garnish with the lemon twist.
Winner, James Beard Awards 2012- Beverage Category
Winner, IACP Awards 2012- Wine, Beer or Spirits Category
“Finally, here is an entire book devoted to the history, culture, and uses of the herbal elixir.”
—BonAppetit.com "Best Cookbooks of 2011"
“Gorgeous and fascinating… highly recommend for those interested in spirits.”
—Michael Ruhlman, 12/2/11
“Engaging…gorgeous….The book practically begs for a dark leather chair, a roaring fireplace, and a Manhattan…a nearly ideal gift.”
—Serious Drinks, 12/1/11
“Stylish, engaging, geek-attack-inducing…The beautiful art in Bitters invites readers to touch, open and browse, and the prose is as intelligent as the photography is beautiful. Whether it's found on the coffee table, in the kitchen or behind the bar, this book incites readers to explore, create and share.”
—Shelf Awareness, 11/22/11
“This is graduate-level stuff and would be a welcome addition to any cocktail geek's library.”
—Wall Street Journal, 11/19/11
“Brad Thomas Parsons tracks the bitters boom in his new book Bitters, and manages to elevate herbs to an art form.”
“Fascinating…Parsons offer[s] techniques for making bitters at home as well as a great collection of unique cocktail recipes.”
—The Washington Post, 11/8/11
“The literary apotheosis of the bizarre and undeniably beautiful artisanal and historic cocktail trend.”
—The Atlantic, 11/4/11
“Cocktails are very much in again and bitters are the belle of the ball. We are totally ready to geek out with this one.”
—The Huffington Post, 8/25/11
“Brad has not only written the definitive volume on bitters, but also proven himself a bartender of the highest order: an inspired mixologist and a gifted storyteller whose generous, engaging voice makes you want to order round after round.”
—Matt Lee and Ted Lee, authors of The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern
“Bitters turns a potentially esoteric topic into a breezy read, packed with recipes for the bar and kitchen that we will certainly be adding to our repertoire. Brad’s witty, generous storytelling and excellent historical research, paired with the handsome visuals, set this book apart.”
—Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinelli, authors of The Frankies Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual and chef/owners of Frankies Spuntino and Prime Meats
“I love bitters! Brad’s book is a must-have for all booze nerds. The history is fascinating and the recipes are awesome.”
—David Chang, chef/owner of Momofuku
“Thanks to Brad Thomas Parsons’s inquisitive detective work, readers can discover how cocktail bitters rose from the ashes of Prohibition to become an indispensable ingredient for the country’s top mixologists.”
—Jim Meehan, managing partner at PDT and author of The PDT Cocktail Book
“Similar to the mysterious and storied elixir it documents, Bitters is bright, refreshing, complex, and essential. It will also cure your gout. Any fan of cocktails will desire it, but so will any fan of fascinating history, good writing, or gentian root.”
—John Hodgman, author of That Is All
If you’re the author, publisher, or rights holder of this book, let ACX help you produce the audiobook.Learn more.
Top Customer Reviews
It has become a cliché of modern bartending that bitters are to cocktails as salt is to soup. They are the seasoning, the ingredient that can turn merely acceptable drinks into stellar ones. Or, as one Filipino friend explained to another in a turn close to my heart, "Bitters are to cocktails as bay leaves are to adobo." You may or may not be able to pinpoint the taste, but without it, everything has a certain flatness.
If you already make your own cocktail bitters, chances are that Brad Thomas Parsons' recent book on the subject holds little new for you. On the other hand, if you're just starting to dabble or don't know where to begin, Bitters conveniently brings together a lot of material in one place. With no other bitters manual in print, one might even call it indispensable for the DIY cocktail enthusiast.
After some introductory remarks and history, Parsons dives into the meat of the matter with short profiles of some two dozen players in today's bitters boom: Fee Brothers, Bittermans, The Bitter Truth, Dr. Adam Elmegirab's Bitters, Bar Keep Bitters, Scrappy's, and more. Not a bad lineup considering that a decade ago, Angostura, Fee Brothers, and Peychaud's were the three remaining bitters producers that survived Prohibition. He includes recipes for thirteen bitters such as apple, orange, rhubarb, coffee-pecan, and root beer bitters. A substantial collection of cocktail recipes using bitters -- more than half the book -- rounds out the pages.
Parsons clearly has spent much time obsessing over bitters; he interviews appropriate authorities and booze pundits, he includes the right companies and products, and he hits the high points of history. He's done his homework. Yet there's a clumsiness about his writing.Read more ›
In a nutshell, that is either the strength or downfall of the entire book depending on your preference. The book is essentially a collection of recipes for several flavors of homemade bitters and an abundance of cocktails that make use of bitters. But most of the text of the book is a memoir of the author's personal experiences with and paean to the modern speakeasy (high-toned cocktail bar) and its place in today's foodie subculture. On that count, this book is reasonably well done. There is a lot of attractive photography of bartenders making beautiful looking cocktails. The writing isn't bad although it feels more like reading someone's blog than a professionally produced book.Read more ›
The book does go into comprehensive detail about the bitters available on the market today. The list is very comprehensive, even talking about fairly obscure Bitters such as BitterCube (Wisconsin). Brad goes out on a limb and makes a recommendation of the 11 comercial must have bitters for your cocktail bar. Once you have the feel for the commercially produced bitters you move on to how to make your own. The book breaks down the recipes into a very approachable format. If I were to have a criticism it's would be that there's only 13 actual Bitters Recipes in the book. However, I think overall the book leaves the reader with more than enough information to continue down the road of making bitters.
Who Should Read this Book: Drink Nerds, High Functioning Alcoholics with standards, Home-brewers.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have enjoyed reading this book. A wonderful compliment to other books I have on mixed drinks. Well done!Published 9 days ago by Donald Stone
Well-researched, interesting. I gave it as a gift and then read it myself.Published 2 months ago by unfulfilled wishes
gave this as a gift and it was very well received. I took a look before wrapping it and may get another for myself.Published 2 months ago by cliff northon
This is a great book for someone interested in bitters. If you want to know what they are, their history, or even how to make them... start here. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Tj Nelson
A very interesting read that definitely tells you the story of the cocktails’ unsung hero: the bitters. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Holly Gordon
Have made four of the bitters recipes. Procuring the ingredients is part of the fun. Great improvement to my cocktail making/drinking.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Wonderfully informative and filled with history. Lots of beautiful photos and a great deal of recipes not just for cocktails but for making the bitters themselves!Published 4 months ago by Rev