Polishing Palates with Bitter

Brooke Newberry
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Bitter is having a big moment. Its resurgence is undoubtedly being celebrated in craft cocktail culture in the form of, yes, bitters, but the influence of this elemental taste doesn’t stop at the bar. The sugar and salt-spiked American diet is slowly being permeated by more balanced and sophisticated flavors. The element of bitter deepens flavor and gives food and cocktails added dimension.


The Bitter Trend

Dark Chocolate: Chocolate companies are making ultra bitter chocolate candies containing over 80 percent cacao. Notice how the percentage is always highlighted on specialty chocolate bars? The stuff isn’t just for baking anymore – consumers are enjoying the blunt, rustic taste all on its own.

Bitter Salads, Bitter Vegetables: Think endive, radish, radicchio, frisee, kale, arugula, chard and dandelion greens. We’ve all seen these veggies featured on menus, strengthening salads and side dishes.

Coffee: Coffee is often used in chocolate desserts and grill rubs to intensify, deepen and balance flavor. Coffee and tea houses are also offering much wider regional tasting menus and are encouraging customers to “try it black.”

Bitter Peppers and Chilis: Morita, chipotle, shishito and urfa biber have recently stolen the spotlight away from spicier peppers like jalapeno and habanero because they impart warm, deep flavors without all the scorch.

Bitter Fruits: Grapefruits and kumquats are incorporated into savory salads and desserts for kicks of color and bite. 

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