What Are Bitters? We Explain

Bitters are a classic cocktail ingredient, and they can be found in nearly every bar and nightclub around the world. People have been adding bitter ingredients and flavors to alcoholic beverages since the time of the ancient Egyptians, but our modern concept of bitters was invented in the early 1800s as medicine for relieving stomach pain.

Many bitters companies closed during the American Prohibition era and the ingredient was almost lost forever, but in recent years, mixologists and craft cocktail makers have brought bitters back to prominence. Due to the popularity and versatility of bitters, it is essential for bartenders to learn what they are, what types are available, and why to use them in drinks.

What Are Bitters?

Bitters are a liquid ingredient with a bitter flavor that are primarily used in cocktails and alcoholic drinks. They are created by infusing bark, herbs, fruit peels, flowers, roots, and other ingredients in alcohol, and there are a variety of flavors that you can create. When added to cocktails, bitters are measured in "dashes," but the amount of a dash can differ depending on the bottle. Typically, a dash of bitters is 6-8 drops or 1/8th of a teaspoon.

Difference Between Digestive Bitters and Cocktail Bitters

What are bitters

There are many varieties of bitters, and the types of bitters have unique flavors and are used for different purposes. Before we get into the types of flavored bitters, you should first understand the two main categories of bitters and what they're used for.

Digestive Bitters

Digestive bitters are popular in Europe but are not as prominent in the United States or Canada. Rather than being used as an ingredient, digestive bitters are drunk straight or on the rocks, and they are usually served after a meal has finished. The purpose of digestive bitters, also known as digestifs, is to help you digest your meal.

There is another variety of digestives, known as aperitifs, which come before a meal but serve the same purpose of helping digestion. There are a variety of popular digestive bitters, but some of the most famous are Amaro, Campari, Jaegermeister, and Unicum.

Cocktail Bitters

Most people in North America are more familiar with cocktail bitters. This type of bitters is much more concentrated and has a very strong bitter flavor. And, rather than being drunk straight, cocktail bitters are used as an ingredient in cocktails and mixed drinks, most famously in Manhattans and Sazeracs. Cocktail bitters are very versatile, and there are many different varieties and flavor profiles.

Different Types of Cocktail Bitters

Among cocktail bitters, there are plenty of different flavors to choose from, and mixologists are constantly creating new and interesting options. Here are some of the most popular categories and flavors:

cocktail bitters
  • Aromatic: Aromatic bitters are the largest category of cocktail bitters, and they are the ones that most people are familiar with. Aromatic bitters are flavored with herbs, spices, and barks, which gives them a strong aroma, hence the name. This type of bitters is one of the oldest varieties, and it's required for many traditional cocktail recipes. Angostura bitters, which are one of the most popular varieties, are aromatic bitters.
  • Citrus: Citrus bitters are the second most popular type of bitters, and they are used in a variety of cocktail recipes. Among citrus bitters, orange is the most popular flavor, but there are other options like lemon and grapefruit, as well.
  • Herbal: This is one of the most varied categories of bitters in terms of flavor and aroma. Tarragon, thyme, and lavender are some of the most popular types of herbal bitters.
  • Nut: Nut bitters are a relative new invention, but they are growing in popularity, especially among adventurous bartenders and mixologists. Two of the main nut-flavored bitters are chocolate and coffee, which, while they aren't nuts themselves, have a dark and roasted flavor that is similar to other nuts.

Why Use Bitters?

whiskey bitters

Bitters are a versatile ingredient that should be on the shelf in every bar and nightclub. But why should you use them in your cocktails? Here are a few reasons why bitters are essential for every bar:

  1. Bitters add complexity to your drinks. Adding bitters to a cocktail doesn't necessarily mean it will have a strong bitter flavor. Instead, bitters help accentuate other tastes, like sourness or sweetness, and give your drink more depth of flavor.
  2. They're a necessary ingredient for many popular cocktails. Some drinks like the Manhattan, the Sazerac, or an Old Fashioned won't have the same delicious and complex flavor without at least a dash of bitters.
  3. Bitters have health benefits. Just like digestive bitters, the cocktail variety is good for your stomach and can aid with digestion.

What Are the Major Bitters Brands?

Choosing a brand of bitters can be a difficult choice, and it depends mostly on what kind of cocktail you want to make because the different brands can have vastly different flavor profiles. And while there are now hundreds of brands and types of bitters to choose from, there are four major brands that you should be familiar with and have stocked in your bar or restaurant.

Aromatic bitters

  1. Angostura Bitters: Angostura is the oldest brand of bitters, dating back to the early 1800s. This company specializes in aromatic bitters, and their bottles feature an easily recognizable oversized label. Angostura bitters are a necessary ingredient for creating cocktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned.
  2. Peychaud's Bitters: Peychaud's are an American-made bitters that were invented in Louisiana in the 1800s, and they are a classic ingredient in Cajun cooking and classic cocktail recipes. Peychaud's bitters are an essential ingredient in making a traditional Sazerac cocktail.
  3. Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6: Regan's is a relative newcomer to the scene, as they started in the 1990s. The brand was started when a New York City couple decided to make better orange bitters. Their Orange Bitters No. 6 are considered some of the best citrus bitters on the market, and they can be used in a wide variety of cocktails.
  4. Bittermens Bitters: Bittermens is also a new bitters company that sprang up from the craft cocktail movement. Unlike classic brands like Angostura and Peychaud's, Bittermens is attempting to shake up the industry by creating new and unique bitters flavors, such as Mexican mole, cranberry, and orange cream. Their bitters are perfect for creative mixologists and bartenders who want to experiment with new flavors.

Bitters are a popular ingredient used in a variety of cocktails, and because of their popularity, it's important that bartenders and restaurant owners learn what they are, the different types, what they're used for, and why they should be used in recipes.

Posted in: Foodservice Trends | Bars & Breweries | By Richard Traylor

Should Your Restaurant Start Serving Breakfast?

how to offer breakfast

Consisting mainly of inexpensive ingredients (like eggs, potatoes, and toast), breakfast foods have a lot of potential for a high profit margin. And as “the most important meal of the day,” surely people are seeking breakfast options that are suitable for their lifestyle, right? While it may seem like a foolproof way to improve your business, offering breakfast doesn’t necessarily make sense for every restaurant. However, offering breakfast does make sense for a lot of restaurants as long as the following factors are considered before taking the leap.

Considerations Before Committing to Serving Breakfast

1. Will There Be Competition or Demand for Breakfast in Your Area?

As with any kind of business, a good first step is to find out what the competition is like. Are you situated in an area that’s already saturated with great breakfast spots? Do you get a lot of foot traffic in the morning as people are on their way to work? Really, the question you need to ask is: are people looking for breakfast in this location?

2. Do You Have Enough Employees?

Do you have enough employees to cover the early morning shifts, or will you need to hire more people? Training and paying new staff can be a huge expense when launching breakfast for the first time.

3. Will You Need to Purchase Any New Equipment?

offering breakfast in your restaurant

What equipment will you need to buy? Most breakfast items are pretty simple to make, and turn out great with just a skillet or griddle. However, customers will expect coffee, which obviously requires a coffee maker. Will you need to purchase a waffle maker? The expense of these equipment pieces can add up, if you’re not careful.

4. Could You Produce Breakfast Quickly?

Because most people have to get to work or get started with whatever else may be on their schedules for the day, they likely don’t want to spend a lot of time on breakfast. If your establishment is set up in a way that’s conducive to speedy execution, perhaps breakfast is a good idea for you. But if you have limited space and staff, long waits could cause frustration for diners.

5. What Service Style Will You Choose?

The type of service you choose depends largely on the other factors in this list. But there are three common styles that most businesses choose from, mainly relating to their hours of operation.

  • Breakfast All Day - You’re probably pretty familiar with the idea of 24 hour diners that offer breakfast all the time. This is one of the most popular styles of breakfast restaurant and, of course, many popular chains have branded themselves as strictly making breakfast all day.

  • should your restaurant offer breakfast
  • Open Early for Limited Time Service - It’s become pretty common for bars (that would ordinarily see most of their profits late at night) to open for Sunday brunch. You might even see Tex-Mex restaurants opening early to offer breakfast burritos for the morning hours of the day. If there’s a demand and you can provide a high-quality product, it doesn’t matter what type of food you serve the rest of the time.

  • Selection of To-Go Breakfast Items - Prepackaged grab-and-go breakfast foods are perfect for small cafes or bakeries that people might stop by on their way to work. Something that holds up well for a few hours in a bakery case, like a muffin or yogurt parfait, is a good choice.

Deciding whether or not it makes sense for your business to offer breakfast is no easy feat. From customer demographics to staff and kitchen resources, there are a lot of factors that should be considered before incorporating breakfast into your menu. While it may be the most important meal of the day and can be made with inexpensive ingredients, there’s no guarantee customers will think of your restaurant when breakfast time rolls around. But if you carefully think through the pros and cons before committing, breakfast can be a great addition to your regular service.

Posted in: Menu Tips | By Jessica Wieser

Purchasing Heavy Equipment Online: What You Need to Know

how to order heavy equipment online

If you're considering purchasing large restaurant equipment online, you probably have a lot of questions regarding delivery, compatibility, and costs. While ordering equipment from the comfort of your home and having it shipped to your restaurant may seem daunting or unsafe, it's actually a great way to save time and money. To learn more about the most important questions to ask when purchasing restaurant equipment from WebstaurantStore, keep reading!

Shipping Questions

Because WebstaurantStore is an e-commerce business with no brick and mortar stores, any and all equipment purchases are shipped from warehouses. Here are a few important questions to ask:

How will my item be delivered?

Webstaurant equipment traditionally ships through FedEx, but once an order reaches a certain size in weight or dimensions, shipping switches from ground to common carrier. You’ll be informed how your equipment will ship upon placing your order.

Will my equipment be installed for me?

No, your equipment will not be installed for you. You’ll need to install it yourself or hire a professional.

Do you offer call before delivery service?

Yes! This free feature is optional for all commercial customers and required for all residential customers shipping via common carrier. Call before delivery means the shipper will contact the phone number listed with your shipping address approximately one business day prior to delivery to arrange a four hour drop-off window. This ensures someone at your facility will be available to receive your order, saving you time and money.

Do I need lift gate service or White Glove delivery?

Depending upon the size and weight of your Webstaurant restaurant equipment, you may elect to purchase lift gate service or White Glove delivery. Keep reading to learn more about these two options:

Lift Gate

ordering restaurant equipment online

If your equipment cannot be delivered by FedEx and you don’t have a loading dock, consider using our lift gate service. If you add lift gate service during checkout, you’ll pay a flat rate of $45 to have your equipment delivered on a truck with a lift gate that lowers your items onto the ground. Adding lift gate service for your equipment delivery after it ships is $60.

Keep in mind that delivery truck drivers aren’t responsible for anything other than lowering your equipment to the ground via the lift gate. They won’t take your order inside or unpack it.

White Glove

equipment purchasing faq

If you purchase White Glove delivery service, two trained movers will bring your equipment inside, unpack it, and remove any packaging debris from the premises. Please note that they will not remove your existing equipment. You’ll also be provided with a four hour delivery window. Remember that White Glove delivery typically adds 5-7 business days to your order’s transit time and that costs are determined based upon the equipment’s weight and the distance White Glove agents have to travel.

When should I inspect my delivery for shipping damage? How do I note any damage?

Regardless of how your purchase is delivered, it’s essential that you inspect your equipment while the truck driver is still there. If you see or suspect any damage, note it on the bill of lading and contact WebstaurantStore customer service immediately. If you don’t inspect your order while the driver is still there, it can be nearly impossible to be fully reimbursed by the equipment manufacturer or carrier.

Can I ship my equipment purchase to a residence? How do I determine if my purchase is approved for residential use?

Most equipment product pages feature a disclaimer explaining whether or not the product is designed for residential use. Most equipment warranties are voided if the purchase is delivered to a residence, and we may sometimes refuse shipment altogether.

Can I pick up my equipment order from a WebstaurantStore warehouse?

No, you cannot pick up your equipment from one of our warehouses. All purchases are shipped directly to your business or residence.

Compatibility Questions

Ordering equipment that isn’t compatible with your restaurant’s utilities costs you money in return shipping expenses and restocking fees. Avoid this situation and save yourself time by asking these questions:

How do I know if my equipment will fit my restaurant’s utilities?

is it safe to purchase equipment online

Before placing your Webstaurant kitchen equipment order, it’s essential that you ensure your purchase is compatible with your establishment’s existing utilities. If you’re not completely sure, check with a professional before ordering. To determine the utility connections your purchase requires, check the specsheet or manual on its product page on our website.

Electric-Powered Equipment

Make sure that your business can meet the voltage, phase, and amp requirements of the electric-powered equipment you’re interested in. Additionally, ensure the cord and plug that come with your order are long enough and compatible with the electrical outlet you’ll be using. Some pieces of equipment don’t include a cord and plug with purchase, so you should also pay attention to that.

Gas-Powered Equipment

You’ll also need to determine beforehand whether the gas requirements of the equipment you're purchasing match the gas that’s available in your restaurant. Pay attention to whether the equipment is powered by natural gas or liquid propane, as these are two different fuel types. Your restaurant also needs to supply sufficient gas pressure to the equipment in order to maximize its efficiency and effectiveness.

How do I know if my equipment will fit into my kitchen?

To ensure your equipment purchase will fit through your doors, pay attention to whether the listed dimensions include handles, casters, and legs. Doing so ensures that you’ll have the clearance required above and on either side of your equipment to get it inside and installed. You’ll also need to make sure your hallways are wide enough for the number of bends and curves required to transport your equipment to where you want it. Check the specsheets and manuals on the product's page on our website for your purchase’s specific dimensions.

Are my equipment’s included casters pre-installed?

The specsheet and manual included on your item’s WebstaurantStore product page should mention whether or not the included casters are pre-installed. If you can't find this information, be sure to contact customer service before placing your order.

Costs Questions

Here are a few of the most important questions to ask when it comes to the costs associated with ordering Webstaurant restaurant equipment online:

Are discounts available if I purchase several pieces of equipment at once?

Because WebstaurantStore’s prices are wholesale, additional discounts are very rare. However, if your order is particularly large in size or price, you can request a quote via an online form. The quotes team will review your application and let you know if any discounts are available for your order.

How are equipment shipping costs determined?

All WebstaurantStore shipping costs are calculated based upon your order’s weight, dimensions, and shipping distance. The cost of your order doesn’t play a role in determining shipping costs.

If you're shopping for a new reach-in refrigerator, gas range, or stainless steel work table, purchasing restaurant equipment online is a great way to save time, money, and hassle. Asking the right questions as you make Webstaurant kitchen equipment purchases will also keep you informed and help the ordering, shipping, and receiving processes proceed as smoothly as possible.

Posted in: Management & Operation | By Nora Fulmer

What is Charcuterie? Definition, Pronunciation, and Presentation

Charcuterie (pronounced "shar/kew/tree") describes any kind of cured meat, but is typically associated with specialty and gourmet meats that are prepared using artisanal processes. The term “charcuterie board” often refers to an assortment of meats that are paired with different accompaniments, such as toast, fruit, cheese, and sauces. If you want to offer charcuterie on your menu, there are a handful of basics to understand first, from identifying some of the most popular types of charcuterie, to what makes a really impressive completed board.

4 Types of Charcuterie

how to eat Rillettes charcuterie

1. Rillettes

A French charcuterie that’s similar to pate but with a coarser texture. The basic idea is that the meat is slow-cooked until it can be shredded. Rabbit, goose, and duck are common types of meat used for this.

    How do you eat it? Rillettes can be served cold or at room temperature, then spread over bread or toast.
how to eat Mousse charcuterie

2. Mousse

You’ve likely had chocolate mousse as a dessert. But in the land of charcuterie, mousse refers to a mixture of meat and liver that’s blended in a meat mixer and strained so finely that it takes on a creamy texture. It’s similar to rillettes in that it’s a spreadable meat dish, but the main difference is that it has a much smoother consistency, more like a pate. One of the most popular kinds of mousse is chicken liver. It’s often prepared with spices, cream, and even a bit of wine to achieve a rich flavor and silky texture.

    How do you eat it? Even though mousse must be cooked before eaten, it’s usually served cold and tastes great on toast or even pieces of fruit.
how to eat Salami charcuterie

3. Salami

Salami is ground meat mixed with spices (and usually wine), encased in sausage casings, and then dried. There are many different styles of salami, some of the most common being Italy’s soppresatta, chorizo from Spain, and saucisson sec from France. Pepperoni also falls into this category.

    How do you eat it? The serving method largely depends on the type of salami. Genoa salami lends itself well to being sliced thin on a meat slicer and put on a sandwich. Chorizo is commonly used as an ingredient that adds a robust flavor to cooked dishes and can be found in anything from breakfast to fish entrees to sides of potatoes. Soppresatta is commonly sliced a little thicker and served as an appetizer with cheese and fruit.
how to eat Prosciutto charcuterie

4. Prosciutto

Prosciutto is usually a fatty cut of meat that’s cured in salt and hung to dehydrate over several months. Prosciutto is usually made from pork, but cured lamb, duck, or other meats that undergo the same process can also be considered a type of prosciutto.

    How do you eat it? Because of its dense texture, prosciutto is typically sliced very thin on a meat slicer and can be served in a wide variety of ways. You may see it wrapped around fruit or covering other meats and cooked as a crispy outer shell. It’s a delicious pizza topping; it can be diced and added to quiche or pasta dishes, and it can, of course, be eaten all on its own!

How to Make a Charcuterie Board

To put together a great charcuterie board, try to strike a good balance of flavors and textures. Pair a chewy salami with a spreadable pate and mix up some spicy flavors with sweeter ones. Make sure you’re especially careful when incorporating smoked meats. Since smoke is such a strong flavor, it has the potential to overwhelm your more delicate additions, so try to only include one smoked option per board. Another great element to play with is temperature. Try cooking up a sausage to include, or heat a soft cheese. Basically, just aim to create contrast between all the different qualities in each morsel in a way that makes sense. Many charcuterie boards will include toast, fruit preserves, and even mustard or fancy olive oils to mix up the possible combinations.

When it comes to portion size, many charcuterie boards will include only about 2 oz. of meat per person. This is assuming that it’s being used as a “small plate” being eaten in between meals. For cocktail parties or settings where guests will be mainly eating just snacks, you can increase the portion and include lots of bread.

As for the board itself, there are infinite options. The most popular way you’ll see charcuterie served is on a natural wood board, but slate is common, and many restaurants are turning to imitation wood or slate servingware as a dishwasher-safe alternative to natural materials.

4 Styles of Charcuterie Boards

There are a few different approaches you can take while developing a concept for your charcuterie board. You can go with a regional approach and include items that all hail from the same country or town (i.e. you could make an entire board based on the flavors of Alsace, France or Bologna, Italy). Or you can take a more freestyle approach and think about how your favorite flavors and textures would translate onto one board. Here are a few examples of the latter option, to spark your creativity.

how to make a Pickles Charcuterie board

1. Pickles and Spreads

The crunch of a pickled vegetable with the smooth texture of duck rillettes is a lovely combination. Since pickles are another example of an ancient preservation method, it makes sense they’d marry well together.

how to make a Fruit Charcuterie board

2. Cheese and Fruit

A fresh and crisp green apple goes great with a soft cheese. Add some nuts, honey, and silky chicken liver mousse, and you’ve got yourself one amazing board.

how to make a Veggie Charcuterie board

3. Fresh Veggie and Citrus

Think crunchy fennel and blood orange slices. Bright and fresh flavors can balance out heavier, fattier meats, like salami.

how to make a Meat Charcuterie board

4. Toast and Meat

Go back to basics with thinly sliced prosciutto and fig jam. Layer them on top of toast for some sweet and savory loveliness.

While there’s no real right or wrong way to present charcuterie, it’s important to understand the basic expectations that customers will have, as well as some rules of thumb to give your guests the best possible presentation. By taking the time to understand the common guidelines for creating a charcuterie board, you’ll gain a better knowledge base. This knowledge can help you break the rules in an effective way as you grow more comfortable with the craft of developing a delicious and cohesive board for your restaurant, bar, or cocktail party.

Posted in: Foodservice Trends | Menu Tips | By Jessica Wieser
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