BITTERS, the name given to aromatized (generally alcoholic) beverages containing a bitter substance or substances, used as tonics, appetizers or digestives. The bitterness is imparted by such substances as bitter orange rind, gentian, rhubarb, quassia, cascarilla, angostura, quinine and cinchona. Juniper, cinnamon, carraway, camomile, cloves and other flavouring agents are also employed in conjunction with the bitter principles, alcohol and sugar. Some bitters are prepared by simple maceration and subsequent filtration (see Liqueurs), others by the more complicated distillation process. Those prepared by the latter process are the finer commercial articles. Bitters are usually sold under the name of the substance which has been used to give them the predominant flavour, such as orange, angostura or peach bitters, etc. The alcoholic strength of bitters varies, but is generally in the neighbourhood of 40% of alcohol. Some bitters, although possessing tonic properties, may be regarded as beverages pure and simple, notwithstanding the fact that they are seldom consumed in an undiluted state; others again, are obviously medicinal preparations and should be treated as such.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)