Our bitters & liqueurs range

Bitter spirits are spirits that are based on herbs and - as the name suggests - are primarily characterised by their bitter taste. They have been popularly consumed all over the world for many decades and are also considered digestive aids. It is thanks to this fact that they are also known as "bitters".

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Bitter spirits are spirits that are based on herbs and - as the name suggests - are primarily characterised by their bitter taste. They have been popularly consumed all over the world for many decades and are also considered digestive aids. It is thanks to this fact that they are also known as "bitters".

Liqueurs are alcoholic beverages that have a high sugar content and therefore usually have a rather sweet taste. Bitters and liqueurs, like many other spirits, have their origins in medicinal use. Over the centuries, however, they became increasingly established as after-dinner digestifs and popular stimulants. Thanks to the high variety of manufacturers and flavours, the right bitter or liqueur can be found for every lover.

History and origin of bitters and liqueurs

Many bitter drinks and liqueurs are produced by the process of distillation. This process was first used in Europe by physicians towards the end of the 13th century. From the 14th century onwards, the drinks were also produced for pure enjoyment and a wide variety of recipes were created.As sugar prices were quite high for a long time, the liqueur was mainly regarded as a drink for the upper classes, while the bitter could also be produced from a wide variety of local herbs at little financial cost. The composition of a bitter therefore varies and there are different compositions from herbs, tree barks or roots.The origin of the name of the bitter is based on its typical taste, the name liqueur comes from the French term "liqueur", which in turn has its origin in the Latin word "liquor" (liquid).

Ingredients and classifications of liqueurs and bitter drinks

The minimum alcohol content of bitters and liqueurs is 15 % vol.

The basis of bitters is a neutral agricultural alcohol, which acquires its special and independent aroma through the addition of various components. These are usually herbs, barks and spices or roots. A high-quality bitter is characterised by the fact that only natural aromatic substances were used for its production. The neutral alcohol is flavoured by macerating the aromatic substances in the drink, which are later filtered out again. In this way, the healing herbs and spices release the active substances and flavours, their essential oils and their colour into the distillate. Even though the minimum alcohol content is 15 % vol., many bitter drinks have a higher alcoholic content, often between 35 and 40 % vol.

Unlike many other spirits, it is not so much the percentage of alcohol by volume that plays a role in the definition of a liqueur as the amount of sugar used in its production. Finally, a characteristic feature of this drink is its sweet taste. To be called a liqueur at all, it must contain at least 100 grams of invert sugar per litre. Other types of sugar can also be used, but the degree of sweetness should always correspond to this fixed value. This popular drink is available in different varieties. It can be found as a herbal liqueur, a fruit liqueur or a crème liqueur in the assortments of liquor dealers. The number of flavours and ingredients is high and typical regional additives often play a role.

In addition to the classic fruit liqueurs, there are also various nut liqueurs and creations with vanilla, chocolate or aniseed on the market. Another category of liqueur is the crème liqueur. It has a higher sugar content and contains at least 250 grams per litre, which not only makes it significantly sweeter, but also gives it a thicker consistency. In the case of crème de cassis, even 400 grams of sugar are a prescribed component of a litre of liquid. Since these liqueur variants have an extremely high degree of sweetness, they are rather rarely enjoyed pure and are mainly used as an ingredient in various cocktails.

Herbal and spiced liqueurs are made from tart herbs, various spices and other components. So-called emulsion liqueurs refer to drinks that contain cream or milk; egg liqueur also belongs to this category. According to legal requirements, these must contain at least 150 grams of sugar per litre.

Many paths lead to the goal - the various production processes

A classic process used to obtain bitters and liqueurs is maceration. It is suitable for working with raw materials that have a rather low sweetness. Sugar is added to these ingredients to start the fermentation process with the help of yeast. The ingredients whose aroma is to be contained in the later drink are soaked in neutral alcohol and steeped. This removes the aromas and essential oils from them. To prevent the alcohol and oils from evaporating, it is essential to let the maceration take place in a tightly closed vessel. The time in which this process takes place varies and can be 36 hours, but also several weeks. If you would like to accelerate the aroma solution even more, you can heat the mass. Once the maceration is finished, the resulting macerate is distilled to produce the so-called spirit.

Distillation is another process for obtaining liqueur. Here, a mash is prepared with the basic ingredients and distilled directly. This process is mostly used for the production of fruit or fruit juice liqueurs.

Another possibility for the production of a liqueur is composition. This is a particularly uncomplicated process, because all that is needed is to flavour the neutral alcohol with natural or artificial flavourings.

Well-known brands and preparation variations of bitters and liqueurs

Bitters and liqueurs are still among the most popular alcoholic drinks in many European countries. Due to the diversity of the drinks and the different regional and international taste characteristics, there is an enormous number of bitter and liqueur brands from all over the world. Among herbal liqueurs and bitter drinks, Jägermeister, Ramazotti, Averna, Fernet Branca, Becherovka, Gammel Dansk or Underberg are particularly popular. Well-known producers of liqueurs are Aperol, Baileys, Cointreau, Licor 43, Southern Comfort as well as Kahlúa, Malibu and Passoa. Besides Germany, the countries that produce well-known bitters and liqueurs are France, Italy and England.

Cocktails that are refined with a liqueur are called Mai Tai, Appletini, Prince of Wales or White Russian, for example. Some coffee specialities also like to be complemented with an aromatic liqueur. In the run-up to Christmas, mulled wine with a dash of Cointreau or Amaretto is a typical drink that is regularly consumed at Christmas markets. Those who prefer something more tart and less sweet may find their new favourite drink in a cocktail with a bitter component. Rob Roy, Southern Comfort Manhattan, Great Barrier Reef or Fallen Angel are well-known specialities from this area.

Whether a bitters really has the digestive properties it is said to have is a subject of constant debate. What is certain, however, is that a good bitter or liqueur is simply an extremely successful conclusion to a delicious meal - and that is ultimately the most important thing after all.