What are Bitters?

Bitters are having a comeback! Traditionally used in cocktails, their use is expanding to a number of areas, from functional drinks and mocktails to desserts.

What are bitters?

Bitters are concentrated extracts or tinctures that are made by infusing or muddling botanicals or aromatics, such as roots, herbs, barks, flowers, or fruit peels. These tinctures have a strong flavor and can add an extra dimension to a beverage, from bitter (as the name indicates) to tart.

What are bitters’ benefits?

Bitters on Shelf in a Row

“It can be beneficial to take bitters before a meal to help with digestion,” explains Wellness Category Manager Abby Ayers. “I’ve used it before eating if I’m going to eat something I want to indulge in, but might not agree too well with me.”

“Bitters can be taken before, during, or after a meal,” says Jeremy White, wellness manager at our Richfield store. “Always follow the instructions of the product taken, and take care to not exceed the recommend dose.”

Many customers seek out bitters because they’re having tummy issues, whether that’s bloating, gas, or general stomachaches.

The typical American diet includes lots of sweet, salty, carbohydrate-heavy food, and fewer foods that are bitter — and that’s where bitters can be helpful. They stimulate your taste buds, create saliva, and increase the gastric juices in your stomach, helping you digest food better, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

“They’re best incorporated to a meal that might cause digestive upset, or after any meal where discomfort is occurring,” says Tony Landkamer, Chanhassen wellness manager. “Bitters can be a very gentle and easy way to support and soothe the digestive process before trying other options.”

Bitters may help with digestion, but they can also potentially interact with medications, so speak with your health care professional before adding them to your regiment.

How can you use bitters?

Close Up of Bottle of Bitters

Bitters have a strong, concentrated flavor that could be an acquired taste! Here are a few suggestions to use bitters if they’re new to you.

  • Try taking a small dose to start, or dilute it into flat or sparkling water.
  • Make a mocktail by adding bitters to ginger ale.
  • Add bitters to your favorite juice.
  • Add bitters to a flavorful soup.
  • Mix bitters into whipped cream for dessert.

See recipes for summer functional drinks, including drinks that use bitters.