In the 1800s, bitters were synonymous with a most unlikely industry: medicine.
Used to cure ailments like coughs, stomach aches and kidney disease, people started realizing that bitters were much better in drinks. (Still, it’s hard not to wonder at their restorative qualities after a few sips of an Old Fashioned, which famously uses a few dashes of Angostura Aromatic Bitters.)
A resurgence in craft cocktailing and the farm-to-table movement have thrown this once-obscure ingredient back in the spotlight. And now that dozens of brands and bartenders are creating their own versions of the aromatic additives—flavored with everything from roots, barks, herbs, fruits and spices—they’re becoming harder to ignore.
And why would you? Bitters may not be a cure-all for ailments, but they sure can cure an ailing drink. A dash of bitters often turn a cocktail from humdrum to exceptional. Think of it like the salt-and-pepper of the cocktail world.
Add these five bottles of bitters to your home bar arsenal. Your drinks will never be wanting again.
This article originally appeared on Liquor.com