Flavorful foods and cold drinks are the focal points of just about any summer gathering. Create a party atmosphere that can stand out by adding a bit of island infusion to both bites and beverages so your warm-weather soiree can soar to new heights.
To help add that island spark, an ingredient like bitters provides a potent flavor made from botanicals like aromatic herbs, bark, roots and fruit. While known for their ability to balance countless cocktails, it may come as a surprise that bitters are regarded by some chefs as a pantry staple, adding real depth of flavor to a variety of dishes. Bitters can be added to classic and contemporary cocktails and a range of cuisines to create taste-tempting creations.
Much like vanilla extract, when cooked, the alcohol in bitters evaporates, so bitters-infused recipes can be enjoyed by the whole family at your next backyard barbecue or patio party.
Center your spread around a summer favorite like Pulled-Pork Sliders with Bitters, a tangy Caribbean twist on a classic dish featuring a spicy chili rub. Coupled with a vinegar-based sauce dashed with Angostura aromatic bitters, an unmistakable culinary and cocktail essential made with the same secret recipe since 1824, the flavorful sliders make for a crowd-pleasing main course.
Add to the island vibe with a unique take on a tried-and-true sweet treat like cake. Orange Butter Sponge Cake enhances every party’s dessert course with the sweet and tangy combination of citrus and bitters.
These tasty foods paired with hot temperatures call for cooling off with inventive bitters-forward drink recipes like the Queen’s Park Swizzle, Angostura’s signature Trinidadian cocktail, and a summertime go-to, the Traditional Mojito. These drinks balance the art of the swizzle with the tastes of tiki to provide guests with refreshing beverage options.
Whether you’re an aspiring home chef, an amateur bartender or anything in between, you can elevate summer entertaining with bitters to complement an array of ingredients for exceptional entertaining all summer long.
Find more summertime food and drink recipes to savor at AngosturaBitters.com.
Pulled-Pork Sliders with Bitters
2 tablespoons Angostura aromatic bitters
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
3-3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder roast
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 can (15 ounces) unseasoned tomato sauce
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons Nature’s Intent apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Angostura aromatic bitters
1 tablespoon chili powder
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1-2 tablespoons cornstarch (optional)
14 small slider buns
To make Chili Rub: Stir together aromatic bitters, chili powder and salt; let stand 10 minutes.
Cut pork shoulder across grain into 1 1/2-2-inch thick slices; trim excess fat. If needed, cut into chunks to remove some fat.
Rub meat with chili mixture. In 8-quart pot or 9-10-inch wide, high-sided saute pan with lid, heat oil. Add meat and brown on both sides, about 15 minutes total. Remove meat and place on plate; keep warm.
To make Bitters Sauce: Combine tomato sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, aromatic bitters, chili powder and garlic cloves; stir well. Pour into hot, empty pan. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring and scraping bottom of pan.
Return meat to pan; spoon sauce over meat. Cover and cook 1 hour and 15 minutes on low, rearranging meat halfway through cooking. Transfer meat to plate; cover with foil to keep warm.
To thicken sauce, if desired: Let sauce cool in pan 5 minutes then whisk in cornstarch. Bring to boil; continue to cook and whisk until slightly thickened.
To serve: Pull meat apart with two forks or fingers. Serve warm on buns, drizzled with sauce.
Queen’s Park Swizzle
12-14 mint leaves
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce Demerara simple syrup
2 ounces Caribbean rum
6-8 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
- mint sprig, for garnish
In highball glass, muddle mint leaves in lime juice and simple syrup, then fill glass with dry, crushed ice.
Pour rum over crushed ice and swizzle well until glass is ice cold and frosted.
Pack glass with more crushed ice and top with aromatic bitters. Garnish with mint sprig.
1 cube brown sugar
1/2 ounce simple syrup
12-15 mint leaves
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
2 ounces white rum
2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
1 bottle club soda
- mint sprig, for garnish
In Collins glass, muddle brown sugar cube and simple syrup, then add mint and lightly press to extract flavor. Add lime juice, rum and aromatic bitters.
Fill glass with crushed ice and swizzle.
Repack with crushed ice and top with club soda. Garnish with mint sprig.
Orange Butter Sponge Cake
2 cups cake flour, plus additional for flouring pan
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Angostura orange bitters
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
powdered or extra-fine sugar, for dusting
Heat oven to 350 F.
Butter and flour two 9-inch cake pans. Sift flour three times and add baking powder and salt. Set aside.
With electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and creamy, about 10 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add vanilla and orange bitters.
Divide flour mixture into four portions. Set electric mixer on medium low and add flour alternately with orange juice, starting and ending with flour. Mix just until incorporated after each addition.
Divide batter evenly between cake pans and bake 35-40 minutes, or until cake pulls away from sides of pans. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes in cake pans before turning out.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images (Pulled-Pork Sliders with Bitters, Orange Butter Sponge Cake)