Summer days make the words gin-and-tonic seem perfect. But I’m not a liquor lover. The calories add up too fast, and I’d rather splurge my calories on chocolate.
Diet sodas no longer enchant me; gone are the days I’d start off with a Diet Coke at breakfast–just for the taste of it. Iced coffee and tea are great, but I can only drink so much tannin without wondering if my gut is going to be used to make a Birkin. Oh, OK, maybe a pair of Birkis. So I began to explore drinks that I can drink cold and in quantity without packing on calories and without the cardboardy, acidy taste I get from drink mixes. I tried pouring a tube of flavoring in cold water, and to me the artificial fruit flavors don’t taste like fruit, or even particularly good. They taste like a chemistry lab.
So I tried something so simple, so easy, I can’t believe how good it is. Take a glass, put in as much ice as you love, and then add 3-5 drops Angostura Bitters. Fill with club soda or selzer. It’s a perfect drink. Cleat, crisp, refreshing, bubbly, and a great herbal taste that’s interesting but not overwhelming. Goes with sushi as well at with PBJs.
Angostura Bitters are a bar staple. They aren’t really bitter, the word is derived from aromatic concoctions that contain gentian–a flowering herb that is used in perfumes. It’s also been used as a malaria cure and insect repellent. Versatile plant. Bright blue flowers. Gentian is bitter, but there is a lot more than gentian in bitters–a mix of aromatic herbs that is lovely in smell and dark brown in color.
I originally used the bitters for tea-staining papers, because it worked faster and was darker than tea, and I loved the smell. I swear, if they made this substance as a fragrance, I’d wear it every day.
But until then, I’ll use a few drops over fresh strawberries and in my soda-and-bitters. It’s an inexpensive joy that pays off in big ways.