We recently went on a quest to acquire more cherry bitters. Good cherry bitters are delicious, and a lovely addition to many cocktails. We’re running low on our preferred brand, and Mr. Boudreau is out and won’t have more until sometime in the summer. So in the interim, we need a decent substitute to see us through. After a bit of internet sleuthing, we found four candidates.
The four we were able to get our hands on were the Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla, Crude Cherry & Walnut, Miracle Mile Co. Sour cherry and Owl & Whale Cherry. We decided first off to taste them on their own to see what their flavor profiles are like.
Bittercube – Cherry Bark Vanilla
- Nose: Very clear vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa, hint of lavender.
- Palate: Mirrors the nose, along with woody astringency and a decent bitter kick.
Crude – Cherry & Walnut
- Nose: Walnut, maple, sweet oak, bourbon.
- Palate: Sour cherry (more sour than expected), walnut and maple to start, then sweet oak, bourbon, cinnamon and clove. Mildly bitter finish.
Miracle Mile Bitters Co. – Sour Cherry
- Nose: Mostly bitter green like wormwood. Allspice. Hints of sour cherry and almond shell.
- Palate: Sour cherry, allspice and clove. Hint of menthol. Bitter herbal green finish.
Owl & Whale – Cherry
- Nose: Clove, dusty wood, slightly sour medicinal smell like aspirin. Hints of chocolate and cherry jelly candy.
- Palate: Tiny hint of cherry candy. Then strong clove, camphor, and aspirin. Finish is mildly bitter, with woody notes on the aftertaste.
Unfortunately, none of these are super cherry-y, at least compared to our favorite cherry bitters. However that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t work well in a cocktail, and the Miracle Mile and Crude both have at least decent cherry flavor (especially the former). We decided to try them in one of our go-to cocktails when it comes to cherry bitters and see how they tasted.
- 2 oz reposado tequila
- 1/2 oz Averna
- 1/2 oz Aperol
- 2 dashes cherry bitters.
Stir with ice. Strain into a glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Crude Cherry & Walnut
- Nose: Bitter orange, cola, agave, walnut, faint cherry
- Palate: Cola, bitter orange, faint cherry to start. Mid-palate is agave, walnut, sweet oak like bourbon. Caramel-y, nutty finish with some mild bitter notes. Sweeter and more nutty than the Miracle Mile version, and faintly reminiscent of a Manhattan. Aftertaste of bitter walnut shells.
Miracle Mile Co Sour Cherry
- Nose: Bitter orange, cola, agave, and cherry.
- Palate: Sour cherry, bitter orange and cola to start. Clove and smooth, slightly vegetal agave on the mid-palate. Burnt sugar, allspice, bitter orange and a tiny bit of cherry on the mildly bitter finish.
As you can see, the cherry bitters we turned up were a mixed bag – none that we would actively recommend against, but varying quite a lot in terms of delivering strong cherry flavor. Since our preferred brand isn’t distributed, we think there’s still room in this bitters niche for other contenders (peach bitters too, while we’re at it). That said, the ones we tried did quite well in a cocktail, though we might try upping the proportion of the bitters a bit next time to increase the cherry flavor, since neither of them were extremely bitter. If you have favorites of your own to recommend, we’re all ears. Until next time, cheers!