If you haven’t noticed, cocktails made with craft bitters and exotic mixers are gaining popularity at high speed. Bitters have long been a mystery to some cocktail consumers, but as Salt Lake City’s DIY culture grows, so do the number of folks who love craft cocktails and artisan ingredients.
Bitters are commonly made with botanicals, traditionally prepared with high-volume alcohol and originally sold as medicines. Today, however, bitters are used as apéritifs and cocktail flavorings. Most notably, the artful use of bitters can bring out certain flavor profiles in a cocktail, as well as create an overall balance. I like to think of bitters as the ingredient that ties a perfect cocktail together in a nice, spirited bow.
Locally, two craft bitters companies are making waves among not only local home-bar mixologists, but also in some of the city’s best restaurants and bars. Beehive Bitters and Bitters Lab are both enhancing the cocktail scene along the Wasatch Front. Want to know more? The best way to learn is through tasting, and here are a few beautiful cocktails that you can currently enjoy that showcase these local bitters.
THE TIN ANGEL OLD FASHIONED
TIN ANGEL CAFE
365 W. 400 South, SLC
In this classy cocktail, Beehive Bitters Spiced Orange brings out the full-flavored roundness of the drink. The whiskey hits your pallet and is then immediately cut by the bitters, finishing with a savory note of basil simple syrup delivering a sweet profile. And don’t forget the bourbon cherry—these house-made beauties pop with flavor.
111 E. Broadway, SLC
This gorgeous cocktail could possibly be mistaken for a coupe full of golden honey, but it’s a twist on a classic that won’t disappoint. The Martinez, available at Copper Common upon request, uses Bitters Lab Aromatic Bitters to bring a bright and spicy element to this cocktail. The bitters provide a citrus backbone that plays very well with the oak-centric flavor of Beehive’s Barrel Reserve Gin.
ZEST KITCHEN & BAR
275 S. 200 West, SLC
Zest’s Ginger Spice is the kind of cocktail that bitters are made for—more specifically Bitters Lab Burn Cedar Currant bitters. This oaky, Makers Mark-based beverage is full of house-made ingredients, including house-pressed apple juice and ginger simple syrup—components just begging for the perfect flavor to bring it all together. Bitters Lab Burnt Cedar Currant bitters kicks this cocktail into high gear with a spicy finish you won’t soon forget. Top it off with a bite of the cinnamon-sprinkled apple that garnishes the rim, and you’re in heaven.
THE SAGE BRUSH
1048 E. 2100 South, SLC 801-742-5490
This cocktail is set apart by the use of fresh sage, which is allowed to shine in Beehive Bitters Spiced Orange. Bourbon anchors the cocktail, and a top-off with soda delivers a refreshing finish. However, a full and heaping dropper of Beehive Bitters is truly what pulls The Sage Brush together as a finished, well-balanced drink.