Frequently Asked Questions

What are bitters?

Traditionally, bitters are a blend of extracts made from bitter roots, seeds, barks, and herbs. This high level of bitter flavor is what renders them a non-potable alcoholic beverage. Taken in small amounts, bitters have the traditional effect of easing digestion and are best known as a cocktail ingredient.

How should I take bitters?

That depends. Are you a drinker? If so, feel free to try up to a teaspoon in your favorite cocktail. If you prefer to enjoy bitters on their own, pour a dropperfull or two into a sherry glass and drink down in a gulp. Follow with several swallows of fresh water. You may also find them enjoyable in fresh juice, tea, sparkling water and coffee drinks.

When should I take bitters?

It depends. Bitters have long been enjoyed alongside meals. In Europe, bitter liqueurs are enjoyed before meals (aperitifs) and after (digestifs). Taken before a meal, the bitter flavors stimulate the salivary glands and gastric juices, priming the digestive system for food.

Ayurveda maintains that the purpose of the bitters determines when they are best taken:

If taken  1/2 hour to 1 hour before a meal, bitters will tend to work more on the colon and lower part of the body (apana vayu). Herbs that are purgatives, diuretics and emmenagogues are best taken before meals.

Substances taken with the meal tend to work on the stomach and small intestine, on the middle part of the body and samana vayu, the air governing digestive function. Stimulants and carminatives, bitter tonics, nutritive tonics are herbs best taken with meals.

Herbs taken after meals tend to work on the lungs, on the upper part of the body and on prana vayu, the air governing respiratory functions.
Herbs that are diaphoretics, expectorants, and nervines are best taken after meals.

How much of the bitters should I take?

1-2 droppers with your meals is enough to enhance digestion.

Can I use Bartanica bitters in cocktails?

You sure can!

What are the best drink recipes for using the bitters?

Check out our favorite ways to use bitters in our Recipe collection.

What are essential oils?

Essential oils are considered the life force of the plant from which they’re extracted. Essential oils are extracted from plant material: flowers, leaves, seeds, roots, or stems, a number of different ways, but the most common way is by steam distillation. The concentrated essence can possess a multitude of uses, but most fragrant oils are used to create perfumes.

What is aromatherapy?

At its simplest, aromatherapy is the use of a fragrance, typically an essential oil or a blend of more than one, with its therapeutic action in mind. For example, a certain essential oil might be diffused at a specific concentration to relieve stress.

Why do Bartanica products contain alcohol?

We use alcohol for a number of reasons:

Fixative: Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is a wonderful fixative for fragrances. Most essential oils are highly volatile, so by being mixed into alcohol the fragrance will hang in the air much longer.

Preservative: There are many wonderfully fragrant essential oils that are insoluble in water, so a mixture of these oils and water is futile and prone to bacteria. Our bitters contain alcohol for a similar reason; ethanol is great at extracting the best from most plant material, so the flavor is very consistent with the original plantlife.

Solute: Alcohol is readily absorbed by the digestive system and, in small doses, is the perfect delivery system of beneficial constituents of medicinal herbs and spices.

Flavor Preservative: Ethanol-based bitters have a long shelf life and you’ll find the flavor consistent from start to finish.