Aromatic and flavoured bitters have experienced a dramatic resurgence behind the bar in recent years. For creative mixologists and adventurous palates, they’ve become a sort of liquid spice rack. Offering intense bursts of flavour to cocktails of all types, the new wave of artisanal bitters continues to grow with new tinctures appearing almost every day.
With the advent of all of these new concentrated flavours, using bitters in the kitchen is a natural extension and makes complete sense. In Trinidad, home to the long-essential Angostura since 1824, you’ll find a bottle of bitters in nearly every kitchen. The islanders use it to flavour everything from stews to meats and even ice cream. In 2007, Angostura introduced their version of orange bitters, opening up a whole new range of culinary options for the island’s kitchens, and kitchens around the world.
Culinary Uses for Orange Bitters
Riding the new wave of artisanal bitters, orange bitters, has become a versatile favourite both behind the bar and in the kitchen. Once a staple behind pre-prohibition era bars, orange bitters pulled a disappearing act for much of the 20th century. Fee Brothers, the historic New York-based company, reintroduced the potent tincture in the 1950s, but the orange bitters craze has only recently caught on. Angostura joined the orange bitters party in 2007 and recently, Bittered Sling Extracts of Vancouver began taking artisanal bitters to an innovative new level with their Orange and Juniper creation.
It’s only a small leap from using bitters as a flavour enhancer for drinks, to an amazing flavour enhancement for food. The complexity of orange bitters, created by steeping high-proof alcohol with orange peels and other botanicals, herbs and spices, helps accentuate or temper a wide variety of flavours. It can balance sweetness, or accentuate it, depending on how it’s used. Much like salt and other seasonings, it can create depth to a dish and help blend together a dish’s many components and competing flavours into a delicious and cohesive plate.
There are endless ways to incorporate your favourite orange bitters into your kitchen with gourmet results.
Desserts are a natural target for the intense flavour orange bitters provides. Try using orange bitters as a supplement to orange extract in these White Chocolate and Orange Meringue Kisses that are perfect for an after-Holiday meal treat. You can also use orange bitters to flavour meringue or whipped cream for dessert toppings. Try mixing some orange bitters in with fresh whipped cream for the perfect topping for hot chocolate or adding some to a drizzle of honey to sweeten your tea. For an amazing frozen treat, try adding a few hefty dashes of orange bitters to this recipe for No Churn Bitter Orange Ice Cream or turn your favourite Old Fashioned beverage into a Bourbon and Orange Ice Cream treat. Don’t forget to top it with Guinettes Cherries. And speaking of cherries, this Star Anise Scented Roasted BC Cherry Pie with Orange Juniper Cream can be a star on your table.
Still want more? Try these Orange Bitter Macarons with a Swiss buttercream filling.
From cookies to cakes and even fruit crepes, you’ll find orange bitters to be a wonderful complement to many of your favourite dessert recipes.
Nothing complements poultry and pork quite like orange, so it stands to reason that orange bitters would be a great addition to sauces and glazes used to finish those dishes. Add a few dashes of orange bitters to a Traditional Roast Duck with Classic Bitter Orange Sauce for some added zest. Or try Chinese-Style Pork Ribs with Bitters Glaze for a spicy, sweet and savoury meal that’s sure to impress.
Turkey and cranberries are another traditional favourite, so why not add a few dashes of orange bitters into a Grand Marnier Cranberry Sauce to help bring out complementing flavours even more.
Craving seafood instead? A few drops of orange bitters can help punch up the elegant richness of this Orange Fennel Beurre Blanc Sauce over Scallops recipe.
Orange bitters works wonders in many types of a salad dressings and vinaigrettes.
A healthy dose of orange bitters blended with honey and Grand Marnier provides a vibrant dressing for this citrus salad. It’s also the star of the show in this Greek Yogurt and Orange Bitters Dressing.
For exotic citrus flavour, try this unique Preserved Lemon and Bitters Vinaigrette for use on a variety of salads, or just add a few dashes to your favourite vinaigrette to add an instant splash of intense citrus flavour notes.
You can also try adding a few dashes of oranges bitters to your favourite soups and stews, even chili. This Spiced Manhattan Clam Chowder calls for orange zest, but why zest when you can just add a few dashes of orange bitters?
Find Your Favourite Orange Bitters
Qualifirst carries a number of high-quality, well-respected orange bitters, each with their own unique flavour profile and nuances. Try one or try them all and find your favourite orange bitters to begin building your liquid spice rack for the kitchen.