I love a good gin and tonic in the summertime, and I also enjoy more exotic, herb-tinged sparklers. But lately my drink of choice has been simpler, lower in alcohol and lower in calories. It's sparkling and perfectly refreshing.
Bitters, such as Peychaud's and Angostura, are herbal concoctions of alcohol and dozens of (usually mysterious) ingredients. They have bitter, complex flavors and they are usually used as a flavor accent in cocktails.
I have been finding, though, that a dash of bitters in a glass of soda water is an immensely refreshing drink, especially in the afternoon, when I don't want a full-on cocktail.
Bitters are generally 35% to 45% alcohol, but using them in moderation like this means that the resulting drink is quite low in alcohol. I did some rough calculations, and a drink with a teaspoon of bitters has probably about as much alcohol as 1/10th of a glass of wine.
And yet the soda tastes herbal and warm, almost like a watered-down root beer. That doesn't sound very pleasant, perhaps, but if you are looking for a drink that is not sweet at all, and that has only light flavor, this might be up your alley. I have found it wonderfully refreshing, and a nice substitute for a more alcoholic (and calorie-laden) cocktail. I certainly don't forgo those; I just save them until after work.
Do you ever drink bitters in soda? What kind do you use? I have been drinking regular Angostura, but I also really like Peychaud's and the Blood Orange Bitters from Stirrings.
More about bitters:
• Cocktail Basics: All About Bitters
• How Do I Make Bitters from a Starter?
• Mixology News: Changes Shake Up 2 Bar Basics
• Homemade Bitters
(Images: Faith Durand)