Aromatic bitters are alcoholic drinks flavoured with roots, barks, herbs or fruits. They are drunk either as aperitifs to whet the appetite, as liqueurs after a meal, or are used in small quantities in mixed drinks.
Some aromatic bitters, for example Orange Bitters, are sold under the name which gives them their predominant flavour.
But, more commonly, they have commercial brand names. The best known are Abbots Aged Bitters, which are made in the United States, Amer Picon in France, Angostura in Trinidad, Boone-kamp in Holland, Campari in Italy and Underberg in Germany.
The preparation of aromatic liqueurs originated in France in the sixteenth century, although early Hebrew literature records that sweet or bitter herbs were sometimes added to wine to improve its flavour.
Some bitters are said to be digestive aids. In the United States during pro-hibition in the 1920s, Dr. Seigert’s Angostura Bitters were considered to have medicinal properties and so were exempt from prohibition.