Bitters have been a cocktail go-to for years—and hopefully a bottle or two found its way into your liquor cabinet at some point—but thanks to Brad Thomas Parsons’s Bitters, we stumbled upon some more interesting uses for the magic drops.

So if by some coincidence you find yourself overstuffed with turkey in a few weeks’ time (possibly as a result of excessive thankfulness), a few dashes of Angostura may be just what you need to get back on your feet.

It goes back to bitters’ roots as a patent elixir. Circa 1850, most elixirs were sold with promises to “strengthen, invigorate, tone and rebuild the entire system,” and “stomach bitters” were among the most popular. (Think of it as 19th-century NyQuil.) Of course, most of the claims were bunk, but they inspired brewers to add as many generically healthful ingredients as they could—stuff like roots, barks, fruit peels, seeds and botanicals. Along the way, the bottles found their way into most bars, and we ended up with the distinctive concoctions we have today.

As a result, most modern-day bitters are actually pretty good at settling stomachs. Parsons recommends shaking a few dashes of bitters over ice and topping it off with soda for the ideal digestif. The only caveat: you’ll want to mix it up before you sit down to eat. By the time the turkey kicks in, you’ll be too sluggish to handle a cocktail shaker.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom