How to Use Cocktail Bitters in the Kitchen
Traditional cocktail bitters such as Angostura or Peychaud's add bracing medicinal complexity and complementary bitterness to mixed drinks. Traditionally made by infusing alcohol with aromatic herbs and spices (though some manufacturers use synthetic flavorings and glycerin, an alcohol-free liquid), they are intensely flavored and meant to be used in small doses. These days, bitters come in a range of enticing flavors, from peach to black walnut to pumpkin pie spice, which prompted us to try them in nonalcoholic applications. They worked beautifully in flavored seltzer, whipped cream, crème anglaise, and meringue cookies. They were less successful as a substitute for extracts in higher-heat baked applications such as pound cake, where tasters detected unpleasant (rather than complex) bitterness. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when using bitters as a flavoring agent.