Maybe you are feeling a little under the weather. Or trying to watch your caloric intake. Maybe you're pregnant or just cutting out alcohol for a while. Or maybe it's 11am and you just can't keep up with these crazy frat boys anymore. Whatever the reason is, you just don't feel like having a cocktail or beer at the party right now.
Usually the alcohol-free options at a bar are not too healthy to say the least. A Coke, a canned juice or some sugary, neon-colored mocktail? Yeah...no thanks. But it's a bummer to not get to participate in the festivities or feel like you are being a literal buzz-kill. And you don't want to be the girl just ordering a water or a tea at happy hour. (Or do you? I've totally done both. I gotta be me.)
That's why this season, I'm so excited about my new go-to drink order for when I'm not in the boozin' mood: bitters and soda! Bitters are a liquid extraction of barks, herbs, spices, fruit peels and more that were traditionally used medicinally to aid digestion. Bitters can be made from just about anything but there's always a "bitter" element--usually a root or a bark like angelica root, cinchona bark or gentian root--that gives the extraction it's signature bitter flavor.
The great thing about bitters and soda? You can make it at home or order it at just about any bar. Usually the bar will have Angostura bitters (the kind used in an Old Fashioned), but as bitters are coming back in vogue, lots of local and artisanal bitters brands are popping up with high quality, creative flavors. Who knew you could explore the medicinal power of plants at your local dive bar? And in a no sugar, low calorie, complex-tasting drink? I'll cheers to that.
**For the record, this drink does contain a little alcohol. Not enough to get you buzzed (even if you tossed back many of these) or add more than a couple calories. However, a tiny amount of high proof alcohol is what extracts the flavor, color and medicinal properties of the herbs and spices in bitters. It's the exact same method for making vanilla extract. So if you totally abstain from alcohol for religious, allergy or sobriety reasons--or if you are I don't know, a tween--this might not be the drink for you. If you'd skip out on cough syrup or vanilla extract in a raw treat, then you'd probably skip this as well. If not, the alcohol content is pretty negligible. However, there are glycerin-based bitters available so feel free to explore!**