This cocktail mix-in is just as good in food as it is in drinks.
aromatic bitters bottle
Photography by Caitlin Bensel
| Credit: Photography by Caitlin Bensel

Bartenders use bitters to balance cocktails, but the aromatic elixirs are great for food, too. The concentrated infusions are made by soaking botanicals in alcohol to extract their flavors. Roots, berries, flowers, barks, zests—they're all fair game. Flavors range from celery to chocolate, but the most well-known bitters are angostura, which hail from Trinidad. They're wonderfully fragrant: citrusy, spicy, and a little bitter, of course. Originally bottled in the 1800s as a digestive aid (a few drops in seltzer makes a tummy-soothing tonic), angostura bitters will add a savory warmth to all sorts of things. For breakfast, a few dashes will amp up French toast custard and the maple syrup, too. Bitters will also offset the acidity of your A.M. coffee or tea. For dinner, they'll deepen the flavor of gravy, marinades, stews, and meatballs. And for dessert? A bit of bitters does wonders for pumpkin, pecan, and apple pie fillings, plus the whipped cream on top.