Gentiana lutea forms the backbone of all our bitters. Native to the alpine mountains of central and southern Europe, gentian root is the most important ingredient, historically, in classic herbal bitters and liqueurs, offering strong digestive benefits. While bitter flavor can be derived from many other herbs and roots, gentian just has that perfectly sharp, clean bite.
Did you know? According to Pliny the Elder—the 1st century historian, not the famous double IPA—the botanical name Gentiana is derived from Gentius, the last king of ancient Illyria (modern day Bosnia) who is said to have discovered its therapeutic values. Thanks King Gentius!
Often considered nothing more than a weed, Taraxacum officinale actually has a lot to offer—from the sunny yellow flowers made into wine or mead, the nutritious greens, and its roots which are cultivated for herbal medicines and tea. Those bitter, earthy roots taste fantastic and carry beneficial properties—digestive, kidney, and liver support plus blood purification—and so it plays a starring role in every variety of our classic bitters.
Did you know? The name dandelion comes from the French, “dent de lion,” meaning lion’s tooth, referring to the toothed edges of the plant’s leaves.
Arctium lappa is frequently paired with dandelion to make digestive tonics and liqueurs. The pair have been made into a beverage in the British Isles since the Middle Ages, originally a type of light mead that has more recently evolved into a widely available soda. Like dandelion, burdock has been consumed as food for thousands of years and cultivated for its myriad medicinal properties—particularly aiding in digestion, protecting the liver, and benefiting the lymphatic system.
Did you know? Burdock, with its sticky burs, was the inspiration for Velcro. According to the story, the Swiss inventor George de Mestral came up with the idea in the 1940s after removing the burs from his dog’s fur. After looking at the plant under a microscope he noticed the catching quality of its hooked seeds and, voila, Velcro was born.
Silybum marianum has been prized for centuries as one of the most effective hepatoprotectives, or liver protectors, found in the natural world. The seed contains a compound called silymarin which helps to block chemicals and toxins from the liver, aid in healing liver diseases, and supports the liver’s natural detoxification process.
Did you know? Thistle has been the official emblem of Scotland for centuries, due to a legend about the spiky plant helping the Scots defeat the Norwegians at the Battle of Largs in 1263. Note to self: when sneaking up on a sleeping army without any shoes on, don't step on thistle. It hurts, and you'll scream.
Cousin of the more commonly used culinary sweet basil, Ocimum tenuiflorum carries an incredible array of flavors and aromas from peppery to clove, licorice, mint, and citrus. These flavors complement our Aromatic bitters while lending considerable functional value. Considered an adaptogen, holy basil protects the heart from stress, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and stabilizes blood sugar.
Did you know? Not only can holy basil be used as an insect repellent, but in Hindu mythology it is believed to ward off evil spirits and ghosts. We can’t necessarily vouch for that claim, but we will attest that it makes a tasty and beneficial herbal tea.
Find it in our: Aromatic bitters
Schisandra chinensis is sometimes called five-flavor-fruit. One of the fundamental herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Schisandra is said to contain all five basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, pungent, and bitter. If you’ve never tasted Schisandra berry as a tea, it's an absolute trip and we highly recommend it. Not only is its flavor fascinating, but the berry has adaptogenic properties, helping the body resist stress and anxiety while boosting our immune system.
Did you know? Schisandra berry has been shown to increase energy, physical performance, and endurance. Studies were published in the 1960s which found that the berries even reduced thirst, hunger, exhaustion, and helped to see at night.
Find it in our: New Orleans bitters
Melissa officinalis is a wonderful lemony-scented herb that has been used for centuries as a gentle nervine, or relaxant. It calms nervousness that can affect digestion, helps ease sadness, anxiety, and depression, and promotes restful sleep. A member of the mint family, lemon balm is easy to grow and makes a great tea, or can be used in salads, sandwiches, etc.
Did you know? Lemon balm’s Latin name, Melissa, is derived from the Greek for ‘honeybee’ because bees absolutely love this plant. And who doesn’t love bees? Plant some today! Do it for the bees.
Find it in our: Orange bitters
Rumex crispus is used in traditional herbal medicines for its ability to cleanse the blood of toxins, support and protect the liver, and reduce irritation in the digestive tract. Traditionally described as a bitter root, yellow dock has a unique flavor that is earthy, pungent, and a little sour. We include just a bit in each of our three classic bitters for its strong health benefits, and for the depth and complexity that it brings.
Did you know? From food to cure-all, Native Americans used yellow dock to treat everything from infected wounds to joint pain and yellow fever. The Navajo used the plant before ceremonies to cleanse the body in preparation for spiritual rituals.
Irresistibly spicy, warm, sweet, and pungent, Zingiber officinale is used to flavor so many of our favorite foods and drinks. Ginger ale is often suggested to settle the stomach or prevent motion sickness, but the plant’s benefits only start there: research indicates that it also boosts immune function, increases blood circulation, and is anti-inflammatory. This all sounds good to us, so we've included ginger in each one of our classic alcohol-free bitters.
Did you know? While it’s generally called ginger “root”, the plant is actually a rhizome, meaning an underground stem that grows horizontally. Rhizomes run just under the soil, sprouting the root and shoot systems of new plants as they grow outward.
Widely cultivated but also found growing wild along roadsides all over the world, Foeniculum vulgare has incredible versatility in uses both culinary and medicinal. Every single part of the anise-flavored plant is edible, from the crunchy bulb to the fennel stalk, fronds, flowers, and seeds. Fennel is considered to be one the best carminatives (relieving flatulence), and indeed it has been used in traditional medicine for thousands of years to treat digestion and gas.
Did you know? Anethole is the name of the aromatic compound, reminiscent of licorice, found in both fennel and anise. Together with wormwood, they make up the primary ingredients in absinthe.