There’s nothing wrong with bitter, as the old Campari ads used to say: “bitter is better than boring”. Not exactly a high bar but at least it was honest.
Australian diets generally steer clear of bitter things, with the rare exception of a grapefruit battered in white sugar.
So a bitter drink can come as a bit of a shock to the system, they’re upfront and unapologetic.
But, if you take it slow and ease into it like a warm bath, fireside drinks this winter are going to get a whole lot better.
Bitter drinks are a go to year round for me because they are simple, delicious and versatile.
If you have a bottle of red citrus bitters like Campari and a sweet red vermouth like Dolin or Carpano Antica you have the base for a whole lot of cocktails.
We’ll start with a light aperitivo like the Americano. It’s two parts bitters to two parts vermouth and topped up with an equal amount or more of soda water.
Moving on to the heavier stuff we have the ubiquitous Negroni which is equal parts bitters, vermouth and gin.
Moving to wine based cocktails there are two well known Italians, Prosecco based Negroni Sbagliato and dry white wine based Bicicletta.
The Sbagliato (means mistaken) Negroni is equal parts bitters to vermouth then topped up with prosecco, whereas the Bicicletta is basically an Americano with the vermouth swapped for dry white wine.
Finally we have the Boulevardier, created in 1920s Paris, it is an equal parts mix of vermouth, bitters and bourbon.
All these drinks need is a gentle stir and some large ice cubes in a Collins style glass for the ones with soda and a lowball for the negronis.
In rigorous studies I’ve conducted having one of these while watching Autumn sunsets makes the whole experience 12.5 percent* more enjoyable.