Think of bitters and soda as natural pepto bism*l, or natural alka-seltz*r. They were made for your body. They are crafted from natural ingredients. So for that over-the-counter stuff, and make a Bitters & Soda instead!
I have been using my homemade bitters as a settling tonic for any upset tummies at my house, especially during our bouts with colds and flus. Sometimes I have a glass of bitters and soda before I go to bed, and then I sleep like a baby.
While traditional cocktail bitters are making a comeback in local artisan bars, most people still only use them from a storebought bottle for the occasional drink, if they use them at all! I think bitters are shamefully underused, especially as a part of digestive health. That’s why I wrote Real Cocktails, because I think we need to bring them back!
The History of Bitters, Briefly
Bitters were originally used for far more than flavor in a mixed drink, even though they admittedly elevate any cocktail. Bitters were used as a digestif and even medicine. A digestif is really just a fancy way of saying “something that settles your stomach”. The medicinal aspects of the herbs and roots in the bitters blend can be tailor made to your taste and preference. So the world of bitters is endless!
Bitters are a essentially barks, flowers, peels, spices, and herbs infused into a liquor base like vodka or rye whiskey. Because gentian root and citrus peel are used and there is very little sweetener added to the finished product, the flavor is pleasantly bitter and adds depth and dimension to cocktails and mineral water digestifs alike.
The most commonly used bitters are called aromatic bitters, which include gentian, cassia, and other more common spices like cinnamon and star anise. The second most common kind of bitters are orange bitters. Categorically, there are fresh orange bitters and spicy orange bitters.
In Real Cocktails, I make all three of these most popular bitters, including them in my home bar at all times. Then I am all set for entertaining and for any stomach bugs we have coming around our house.
- tall glass
- swizzle stick
To make unflavored water kefir, simply use water kefir you have fermented through the first ferment only, and not the second ferment which usually includes fruit or fruit juice. Alternatively, you can use mineral water.
Bitters and Soda
4-6 dashes bitters, (how to make Aromatic Bitters, how to make other bitters)
Unflavored Water Kefir or mineral water
- Fill a tall glass 3/4 with ice. Shake the bitters over the ice and fill with water kefir or mineral water. Stir with the swizzle stick gently to combine.
- Repeat as many times as needed to aid your digestion, settle your stomach, or wind down after a night of consuming cocktails, even if they are homemade.