Made from the distillation of aromatic herbs, barks, flowers, seeds, roots and plants, bitters are a liquid used to flavor cocktails, apéritifs or foods. They are also used as a digestive aid and appetite stimulant. Bitters generally have a high alcohol content and are bitter or bittersweet to the taste. Bitters come in various flavors (including apricot, orange and peach) and have long been employed as digestifs, appetite stimulants and hangover cures. They're used in myriad mixed drinks, as well as many food preparations. The most popular bitters used for drinks today are amer picon, angostura bitters, fernet branca, and Peychaud's Bitters. Among other well-known bitters around the world are Abbott's Bitters from the United States (Baltimore, Maryland); Boonekamp bitters from Holland; Gammel Dansk from Denmark; orange bitters, the most well-known (such as Holloway's) coming from England; Stonsdorfer and Underberg bitters from Germany; and Unicum bitters from Vienna.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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