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Bitters - A spirited history of a classic cure-all with cocktails, recipes and formulas
(Ten Speed Press) ISBN 978-1580083591 1580083595

If you are a mixologist or bartender or just want to make drinks with bitters, this cocktail book is your best source of information about bitters.

Besides 70 cocktail recipes, Brad Thomas Parsons provides information on the history of bitters, how to make bitters and how to cook with bitters.

How to make cocktails with bitters

In the introduction to Bitters, Brad Parsons discusses bitters history and answers questions about bitters. E.g., why use bitters? (The aromatic flavorings balance sweetness, add aromatic spices and cut richness.) He also explains how to taste bitters, the difference between cocktail bitters, like Angostura, and potable bitters, such as Campari and Jagermeister.

Cocktail recipes range from gin and bitters drinks and Angostura bitters drinks, to other bitters cocktails, e.g., Sazerac, made with Peychaud's Bitters. Clear instructions make it easy to create cocktails at home, with commercial bitters or homemade bitters. (Try his root beer bitters recipe.)

Alternative to Angostura bitters

Brad Parsons introduces each bitters recipe with the drink's history and information about bitters and the drink ingredients. For example, in his pisco sour recipe, he suggests trying Amargo Chuncho bitters from Peru as a floral, less spicy alternative to Angostura.

Besides cocktail recipes, you will learn how to make tinctures (e.g., rosemary tincture) and cocktail syrups (e.g., honey syrup) for bitters drinks.

Ed Anderson's photos depict bottles of orange bitters, Angostura bitters, other cocktail bitters, techniques and equipment for making bitters, American cocktails and other drinks with bitters.

Who makes bitters?

Bitters includes a list of international bitters makers, from The Bitter End in Santa Fe, and Bob's Bitters in London, to Hermes Bitters in Japan. The cocktails book also explains where to buy bitters online. A resources section lists websites for companies that make bitters and equipment for making bitters.

In the cooking with bitters section, you will find Angostura recipes for everything from sweet and spicy bitter bar nuts to aromatic bitters ice cream. Brad Parsons explains that bitters enhance the flavor and aroma of foods.

The 231-page bitters book includes a list of 10 essential bitters. They range from The Bitter Truth Creole Bitters to Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters.

Sample bitters drink recipes:

Apple bitters. Cherry hazelnut bitters. Coffee pecan bitters. Key lime bitters. Meyer lemon bitters. Pear bitters. Angostura fizz. Champagne cocktail. Pegu Club cocktail. Seelbach cocktail. Rye whiskey syrup. Martinez cocktail. Fernet and Coke. Alaska cocktail. Compound bitters butters. Bitters vinaigrette. Hot & sticky bitter wings. Bitters sweet chocolate malted pudding.

Bitters - A spirited history of a classic cure-all by Brad Thomas Parsons


  • A Brief History of Bitters
  • A Bitters Boom
  • Making Your Own Bitters
  • Setting Up Your Bar
  • Bitters Hall of Fame
  • Old-Guard Cocktails
  • New-Look Cocktails
  • Bitters in the Kitchen
  • Resources
  • Recommended Reading for the Cocktail Enthusiast
  • Index


Brad Thomas Parsons makes bitters and collects new bitters as well as old bitters recipes.

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