Soda with Bitters: Simple and Refreshing

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.
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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)

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