In the late 1990s, orange bitters were a rarity, so cocktail expert Gaz Regan set out to create his own. The result, Orange Bitters No. 6, is one of the most celebrated cocktail bitters on the market.
Cocktail bitters are spirits infused with flavors, typically from plants, fruits, or spices. They have been used for hundred of years, and as far back as the 1800’s to assist with digestion and cure stomach aches. Infusing your cocktail recipes with just a few drops of bitters will give them an additional level of flavor depth. Many bitters are also renowned for their ability to cure hangovers.
Orange bitters were a bar staple in the 1800s all the way through Prohibition, but they were never quite able to rebound after the ban on alcohol was lifted–that is, until the modern 21st century cocktail renaissance, when they experienced a resurgence in popularity. Now this once obscure bourbon bitters variety is again being produced by cocktail artisans intent on preserving the flavors of the past.
Regan based his recipe on one from Charles Baker’s 1930s cocktail guide The Gentleman’s Companion, and it took a trip to a witches’-supply store in New York’s Greenwich Village, endless iterations, and a partnership with The Sazerac Company of New Orleans before he landed on the right formula.
This old fashioned orange bitters recipe is a heady combination of orange zest, cardamom, cinchona, caraway, coriander, cinnamon, clove, gentian, and quassia that complement a wide range of spirits and liqueurs. Try a few dashes in your next Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or any other classic cocktail to help round out its ragged edges and add delightful complexity.