Simplifying life in the kitchen always sounds good, doesn't it? This whole idea that, barring everyday necessities, the only things that belong in your home are the ones that spark joy? Well, although I do love Marie Kondo, it's not always super easy to pull off — especially if you're an avid cook and, you know, you need a lot of things!
But there is one place I find this simplifying approach really works, and that's the home bar. In my experience, you just don't need every liquor, liqueur, and mixer under the sun.
While a lot of creating your personal collection is dependent on your cocktail or cocktails of choice, there is one thing every single bar needs. No matter what you're making or how often you're making it, you need bitters. But not all the bitters — just one specific bottle. According to every bartender I asked, the answer is Angostura bitters.
That's not to say that citrus, chocolate, or tiki bitters wouldn't make a delicious addition to your bar, but these more particular flavors are just not as universal.
More on Bitters
Why Angostura Bitters Are the Best Bitters
"Angostura is the number-one choice for everything from the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned, to Champagne cocktails and Planter's Punch," says Chris Morgan, Divisional Beverage Manager and Certified Sommelier for Morton's The Steakhouse. It is, according to Morgan, the king of bitters.
The exact recipe of Angostura is a mystery to just about everyone, but what we do know is that it complements a spectrum of flavors. "The flavor profile is baking spice, licorice, sweet and sour, with a woodsy, slightly bitter fruit finish," says Morgan. And this balance of flavors means that it can be used in basically any cocktail calling for bitters.