Flavored Alcohols: Bitters and Liqueurs

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
Alcohol’s split chemical personality, its resemblance to fats as well as water, makes it an excellent solvent for other volatile, aromatic molecules. It does a good job of extracting and holding flavors from solid ingredients. Herbs, spices, nuts, flowers, fruits: all these and more are soaked in alcohol, or distilled along with alcohol, to make a host of flavored liquids. Gin is the best known of these. Most of the others fall into two families: bitters, which are just that, and liqueurs, which are sweetened to varying degrees with sugar.