Are bitters gluten-free?
Bitters are a great way to add some depth of flavor to cocktails. But are they gluten-free? Yes! Most bitters are made of botanicals soaked in clear alcohol and contain no gluten.
Generally, bitters don’t contain gluten. There may be some brands of bitters with added ingredients that are not gluten safe; always check the label for any product that has added flavors.
Some brands offer bitters that are whiskey-based. Whiskey, despite being made with wheat, rye, or barley, is actually gluten-safe. Gluten does not remain in the liquid after the distillation process.
As always be sure to check the label when purchasing. Whiskey-based beverages and bitters could contain coloring or flavoring that contains wheat.
Two brands of bitters that don’t contain gluten, even in whiskey bases or coloring, are Angostura bitters – the most popular and ubiquitous bitters brand by far – and Portland, OR-based company The Bitter Housewife.
Bitters can be enjoyed in alcoholic beverages, or as an enhancement to things like soda water. Soda water is also generally considered gluten-free, but certain brands may cause reactions for certain people, according to a forum on the website Beyond Celiac.
It is possible that carbonated water causes upset stomachs for those who have comorbidities with their celiac disease, such as Crohn’s or IBS. In this case, alcohol might not be the best for stomachs either.
Bitters, however, are known for their stomach-soothing properties. Read on to find out more about bitters and how they can be enjoyed.
What are bitters?
Bitters have been around since Ancient Egyptian times when wine was infused with herbs. Today, they are used to enhance the flavor profiles of alcohol, as well as as a digestive aid.
Bitters are made by steeping botanical extracts of grasses, barks, roots, fruits, and leaves in high-proof alcohol like whiskey or Everclear. The result is an aromatic, strong liqueur.
To enjoy bitters with alcohol or soda, simply put a few dashes of bitters on top of your drink. A little goes a long way when used as a flavor enhancer. Many bartenders refer to bitters as ‘the salt and pepper of alcohol.’
To use as a digestive aid, drink about an ounce or a tablespoon of bitters after a meal. In the 1800s bitters were often used this way, as a medicinal health tincture. Unlike many similar tinctures created in those times, digestive bitters are actually effective.
The bitter taste of the herbs used in bitters is thought to stimulate saliva and release more gastric juice. This helps with things like indigestion, cramping, and heartburn. Bitter receptors might also stimulate your digestive system to release gut hormones that make you feel full, thus easing appetite.
Bitters can also be made at home – this method will ensure that your bitters are gluten-free, as you can select the ingredients yourself and check their origins. You can also have fun mixing different flavor profiles to create your own unique bitter recipe.
Common Bitters Ingredients
Different bitters will include different ingredients, but some commonly used are:
- Cassia bark
- Cinchona bark
- Orange peel
- Gentian root
- Dandelion root
- Orris root
|Nutrition Facts||Angostura Aromatic Bitters|
|Serving Size||½ tsp|