Product Review: The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters

Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the products discussed here were provided at no cost in exchange for my honest review.

The Bitter Truth is an award-winning purveyor of cocktail bitters, liqueurs, and spirits. Not long ago, I had the chance to sample several notables from its product line and unleash my inner mixologist. To better serve that purpose, a 200 ml. bottle of Olive Bitters (the full-sized bottle being a recent addition to the product catalogue) was sent our way, along with The Bitter Truth Cocktail Bitters Traveler’s Set, a sampler tin containing 100 ml. vials of five varieties of bitters: Orange Bitters, Original Celery Bitters, Old Time Aromatic Bitters, Creole Bitters, and Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters. As I hadn’t worked much with bitters of any kind before, this sampling opportunity seemed like a good chance to gain some knowledge about them while sipping on tasty beverages.

My first impressions would be built on aromatics. Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters are led by definitive expressions of clove, with hints of cinnamon, cardamom, and the tang of dark chocolate. The Old Time Aromatic Bitters speak more of caramel and candied fruit, mixed with fainter clove and baking spices like nutmeg and ginger whose mingling summons thoughts of baked desserts. Striking some of the same chords, star anise, cardamom, and cinnamon led the charge in the bouquet of the Creole Bitters, but remained divergent enough for each to be distinguishable despite the similarity. The Original Celery Bitters have a milder bouquet that delivers on its promise of celery and laces it with lemon peel. The Orange and Olive varieties’ names tell their tales in straightforward fashion; the former gives up fragrant declarations of dried orange peel and orange oil, while the latter offers green olive aromatics dressed with a light sprinkling of herbaceous sage and spicy mustard notes.

The Olive Bitters are tailor-made for mixing with clear spirits and cocktails that feature them, while the Orange Bitters bring a welcome burnt-at-the-edges flavor, as of citrus peel that’s been candied and caramelized, to drinks led by liquors like rum and cachaça, or sweet and fortified wines. The Creole Bitters, weaving together essences of anise, wormwood, and baking spices, brought out the best in whisky- and spiced rum-driven drinks. Jerry Thomas’ Own Decanter Bitters complemented these as well, while the Original Celery Bitters spoke loudest mixed with gin and drinks where vegetal, herbaceous flavors reigned.

These bitters lend both taste complexity and aromatic breadth to cocktails as well as spirits taken neat or on the rocks. Their merits lie as much in this as in their versatility, as each has a number of spirits whose flavors complement its unique blend of tangy bitterness and fruit or herbs. And although a career mixologist I am not, I found them fun to experiment with in terms of using them to accent several original cocktail recipe creations (look for examples of these in future posts throughout the month of August). The Bitter Truth offers drinkers a reliable means of elevating their cocktail-building game to expressive new heights.

Learn more about The Bitter Truth’s products and find great ideas for your next round of drinks at

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