Bitters for Sipping and Cooking

28 Dec

Once sold as medicinal tonics but now used to flavour cocktails, bitters (or extracts) are a concentration of natural herbs, fruits and spices. Until recently, all you could buy in Canada was Angostura bitters. Lauren Mote started making her own bitters six years ago, as a bartender in Vancouver. She saw the potential for an artisanal retail line, so with her life and business partner, Chef Jonathan Chovancek, she created Bittered Sling—a range of small-batch extracts that work as well in food as in drinks. Today these all-natural concoctions are the country’s top sellers.



I’ve been experimenting with Bittered Sling’s Vintage 2013 pack, which includes seven little bottles, covering a broad spectrum of flavours and applications. You can use Plum & Rootbeer, Moondog [a smoky, earthy extract] and Denman [a blend of South Asian spices] as replacements for vanilla extract in chocolate chip cookies or cake. They add depth and complexity of flavour. The lighter more floral and citrus bitters, such as Grapefruit & Hops, Orange & Juniper, and Lem-Marrakech can be used to finish vinaigrettes, cure fish or lightly scent meringues.

For drinks, the simplest thing to do with bitters is flavour sparkling water. The bitters are made solely of herbs barks, roots, seeds, and spices, so you get a delicious drink without the sugar, artificial additives and nasty crap most sodas contain. And when it comes to cocktails, there’s so much fun to be had experimenting. You kind of feel like a mad scientist using the dropper to add tiny quantities of bitters into your drinks. There are recipes to get you started on the Bittered Sling website.

Here’s Lauren’s recipe for a Wimbledon Mule, which uses grapefruit and hops extract. It’s refreshingly citrusy and combines cucumber coolness with ginger heat.

Ingredients Cocktail
To buy Bittered Sling extracts, visit: . While you can use whatever gin or ginger beer you please, Hendricks Gin and Fentiman’s Ginger Beer are recommended in this drink. Both are infused with botanical ingredients, which make the cocktail subtle yet complex in flavour. This is a wonderful crowd pleaser–perfect for ringing in 2014.

Happy New Year!


Wimbledon Mule
  • 1.5 oz (45mL) Hendrick’s Gin
  • 0.75 oz (22mL) Simple Syrup
  • 0.75 oz (22mL) Lime Juice
  • 6 mint leaves (smacked and torn)
  • 2 slices washed English cucumber (cut into pieces)
  • 2 dashes Bittered Sling Grapefruit & Hops Bitters
  • Fentiman’s Gingerbeer (to top)
  1. Muddle the mint and cucumber pieces gently with the gin.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except the gingerbeer) and ice.
  3. Shake for 5-7 seconds, and strain over fresh ice into a collins glass.
  4. Top with gingerbeer and a slapped mint sprig.

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