Key Tips To Perfectly Balance Bitters In Your Aperitif Cocktails
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Consumed at a leisurely pace on slow evenings, as daylight gives way to dusk. Aperitifs reflect the calming moments of letting your hair down and evidently welcome after a long day of work. Many a times, these drinks make use of Amari or Italian herbal liqueurs to embody a botanical and spicy profile. These liqueurs are quite bitter and usually added to cocktail recipes like negronis and amaro sours to introduce a lingering tartness into the drink. Making a good aperitif requires some skill because adjusting the bitter notes in the drink, helps make it palatable.


Dilute an amaro like pastis in some water since this anise-flavoured liqueur is often served with some cool water to keep on adding small amounts of it for the liqueur’s bitterness to mellow down. This also allows the different layers of flavour to unravel when you keep on adding splashes of water to it and causing it to turn cloudy. Experiment by adding tonic water or sparkling water as variations to adjust the bitterness in other types of amari like Aperol and Pernod which are typically enjoyed with water or on a bed of ice.

Using Citrus Juices 

Most aperitifs like the negroni or Aperol spritz make use of certain citrusy elements to undercut some of the bitterness in the liqueur used to prepare them. Citrus peels, zests and garnishes not only add a fresh and tangy quality to your cocktail, but also introduce an element of acidity and sourness into the drink. Use grapefruit, orange and lime juices in abundance for achieving a similarly balanced finish in your aperitif recipes.

Floral Liqueurs

A great way to balance out the bitterness in aperitifs is to use certain floral liqueurs like elderflower or lavender, whose fragrances introduce a light aromatic element into the drink, giving it a fresh quality while reducing some of the overtly herbaceous and bitter botanical notes present in Campari or the artichoke-based Cynar liqueur.

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Herbal Garnishes

Sometimes the best way to arrive at a stunningly balanced mix of flavours in an aperitif is by using a variety of refreshing and vibrant herbal garnishes bursting rejuvenating flavours. From something as simple as a sprig of mint, basil or rosemary, or even citrus peels for extra layers of flavour, tame down the tart notes in the amari with their spicy, robust and zingy notes.

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Sweet Vermouth

The fortified wine made with a variety of herbs and spices – sweet vermouth or Italian vermouth is a liqueur popular for its use in negronis and Manhattans. Use the subtle bitterness and the whisper of sweetness of the liqueur to balance out some of the tartness in Campari or even gin, when making aperitifs. Sweet vermouth also brings more complexity into an otherwise bitter drink, providing a very layered flavour experience in your pre-dinner tipple.