Aromatic Bitters
2024: Gold

Intercontinental Spirits Challenge

A quick and creative way to add a delicious aromatic flavour explosion to your favourite cocktails and food dishes

One of two types of bitters in our repertoire, Deep South Aromatic Bitters are crafted over several weeks by infusing hi-proof spirit distilled from grapes with carefully selected spices, herbs, fruit, roots, bark, and other natural ingredients.

Bittering ingredients such as gentian root, walnut leaves and quassia bark give the bitters its eponymous taste, and the addition of various warming spices like cinnamon and clove, with fruity cranberry creates a deep, earthy flavour. Aromatic ingredients like star anise, fennel seed, vanilla and citrus zests complete the mix, adding spicy sweet aromas.

Bitters are primarily used in herbal remedies, in foods and in cocktails. While aromatic bitters are said to have medicinal and therapeutic properties, and they certainly add delicious flavours and aromas to desserts, sauces, gravies and dressings, Deep South Aromatic Bitters are mainly used as a beautiful addition to classic cocktails. They also make delicious refreshing non-alcoholic cocktails like the Rock Shandy, adding that missing flavour boost that alcohol normally brings to a cocktail, by adding a zip to a drink that would otherwise taste just a little dull.

So add some zest to your next cocktail, splash a little bitters and enjoy!

Tasting Notes

Aroma: Heady sweet spice notes with cinnamon and cloves presenting against a fruity citrus background, with hints of aromatic woods.
Palate: Classic bitter-sweet flavours with a complex melange of flavours carried forward from the nose.
Finish: Sweet dried orange peel. Smooth mouthfeel with lingering refreshing bitterness and notes of sweet spice.

Product Specifications

Spirit class: Bitters

Colour: Dark mahogany

Volume: 100ml

Alc/vol: 49%



  • grape and cane spirit
  • dried orange and orange zests
  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  • anise
  • dried cranberries
  • gentian root
  • quassia bark
  • walnut leaves
  • vanilla

The History of Bitters

Herbal tinctures date back as far as the discovery of distilled alcohol. Ancient Egyptians soaked herbs in alcohol to create tinctures and herbal remedies that can be traced back through ancient history even earlier. For example, the Ephedra plant, whose extract was used to combat fatigue, has been in continuous use since early Roman times.

However, ‘bitters’ as we now know it, can be traced back to the 1800s and one Johann Siegert, a doctor in Venezuela, who crafted bitters as a way to keep troops on their feet and aid those suffering from malaria. Other recipes began emerging as “cure-alls” for various stomach ailments, to alleviate headaches and reduce fevers and infections.

At the time they were merely tonics, made using herbs, roots and bark that were believed to offer medical benefits.

Many people, especially in Europe, still consume a nightly spoonful of bitters to help detoxify the liver, or as a digestif, where the bitter compounds stimulate the production of saliva which aids in the absorption of nutrients into our bodies. Certainly, many of the ingredients used in bitters have known scientifically-tested therapeutic properties, and the consumption of bitters is gaining popularity for aiding digestion, easing sea-sickness, supporting the immune system and even assisting in the management of stress!

Since many bitters were unpleasent to taste, it became the practice, especially in military circles, to consume the bitters with rum, gin and spirits rations and this practice began to spread with Angostura bitters in the 19th century becoming one of the first global bitters brands to be used in cocktails.

During the 20th century, bitters became fundamental ingredients for many popular cocktails, including the Old Fashioned, Negroni , Martini and Manhattan. Diverse recipes emerged and bitters is now a staple in most restaurants and bars, used creatively to bring delightful aromatic, bitter and sweet flavours to your favourite drink or dish.

Image - Bittering herbs for Bitters
Bittering herbs for Bitters

Uses for Bitters

Bitters have three main applications.  They are used for their therapeutic value, especially in traditional and herbal medicines. They are used in cooking to enhance flavours and aromas.   And they are a fundamental ingredient in many cocktails.    

Spiced Cupcakes Recipe

Culinary uses of Bitters

Bitters have many applications in cooking but for best effect they should not be used in recipes that require prolonged cooking or high heat, as these can burn off the lighter and more delicate aromas, leaving just the bitter aftertaste.

Generally, they are best added after cooking is finished, or in components that add impact to a dish like creams, dressings, icing and sauces. Aromatic bitters can add an extra dimension to your soups, marinades and gravies – stir in a healthy squirt before serving.

They are delicious added to jellies, and a splash into a jam or preserve bottle just before sealing will add a delicious piquancy to the flavour. They add complexity to creams, ice-creams, smoothies and shakes or your favourite coffee and can even be used to spice up your egg-based and cream-cheese-based dishes

Enjoying Bitters in Cocktails

Aromatic bitters are an indispensable ingredient to many famous cocktails including the Old Fashioned, Negroni, Pink Gin, Manhattan and Martini cockails.  See here for these and other great recipes.    

Featured recipes

Vodka Sour Cocktail

Vodka Sour

A typical sour cocktail, this Vodka Sour combines the delicious sweet-tart taste of sweetened lime and vodka, topped with frothy egg-white.

Suffering Bastard cocktail

Suffering Bastard

A potent flavour explosion of Amber Rum, Citrus Gin, lime juice, aromatic bitters and ginger beer, our version of this classic drink is a guaranteed pick-me-up!

Rock Shandy non-alcoholic cocktail

Rock Shandy

Invented right here in South Africa, this classic drink is a refreshing choice to enjoy by the pool or at a braai, and uses only three ingredients combined together: lemonade, soda water, and aromatic bitters. Add a slice of lemon or a lemon peel twist to make it fancy and enjoy!

Gin Sour cocktail

Gin Sour

Light, refreshing, and with a lot of punch, the Gin Sour is one of the original ‘sour’ cocktails, and has been enjoyed in a similar manner since the late 1800s.

This recipe combines delicious Deep South Citrus Gin, sweet-sour lemon and aromatic bitters topped with frothy egg-white for a mouth-watering refreshing lemony hit!

Manufactured by Deep South Distillery
52 Heron Park, Wildevoelvlei Rd, Kommetjie
+27 21 783 0129