Book Review: Bitterman’s Field Guide to Bitters and Amari

51VHrm7ytCL._SX359_BO1,204,203,200_Mark Bitterman sure does like bitters, and if you want to learn how to make them, to craft cool cocktails with them, or even cook with them (bittered southern fried chicken, anyone?), this new book is for you.

A true field guide in appearance — softbound with a rubberized cover — the book feels a little backward, flow-wise, I mean. The “field guide” — wherein Bitterman catalogues some 500 bitters and 50 amari, is at the back of the book. Up front is where Bitterman teaches you how to make bitters at home (hint: stock up on Everclear) and craft cocktails and meals with them. Shouldn’t the reader get a solid understanding of bitters before embarking on home production? Minor quibble, but for many readers the analysis of commercial bitters will be the most worthwhile part of the book.

The cocktail recipes in the book are quite a delight, often heavily dosing classic drinks with a big slug of bitters and/or an amaro — frequently to dramatic effect. I may even make that chicken someday, too.

Given the exhaustive amount of content here, what then to make of some curious omissions in the text — such as the appearance of only one form of Chartreuse in the amaro lineup or the absence of Barrel-Aged Peychaud’s Bitters from the field guide? I figure if it’s something I actually have in my bar, Bitterman for damn sure ought to have it on hand.


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1 Response

  1. ArcAngel February 18, 2016 / 8:22 pm

    I like the book overall and it will be a go-to guide to see what I should add next to the bar, but my palate interprets many things quite differently from his tasting notes – which has me a bit suspect. It seems like some brands are almost favourites.

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