Courtesy of Cure
Alcohol-based extracts and solutions used as curatives in holistic medicine, tinctures have been popping up on bar menus as a way to add unique flavors to cocktails—like bitters but focused on one ingredient as opposed to an herbal blend.
In New Orleans, Cure bartender James Ives creates a range of high-proof alcoholic extracts like his coffee tincture made by infusing grain alcohol and rum with cracked coffee beans and concentrating the mixture by fanning it near a window over the course of several hours. Ives learned the technique from fellow bartender Kirk Estopinal, who had researched the historical production of tincture-like compounds such as perfumes.
Used sparingly and frequently homemade, tinctures are often confused with bitters or deliberately mislabeled because “bitters” is a more widely marketable term. "A tincture is a component of a drink that is a concentrated flavor,” Ives explains. “Whereas bitters have many different ingredients, including barks and roots and stems.”