Born as a medicinal tincture to quell a lengthy list of ailments (vapors, croupe, or dropsy, anyone?), bitters evolved into a cocktail staple because they do a beautiful job of tempering overtly sweet or tangy flavors, or adding a subtle, nuanced note to a drink. Beyond the medicine cabinet or bar cart, they deserve a place in the pantry, too. Use them as you would flavored extracts in baking or to lend an herbaceous element to soups, salad dressings, and marinades. The range of bitters on the market is broad, to say the least, so rest assured there is one out there to complement virtually any dish you can dream up.
This dark chocolate pot de crème blooms with complexity thanks to a splash of bourbon and several dashes of cherry bitters, such as Woodford Reserve’s spiced cherry bitters. If that doesn’t booze things up enough, try it with some bourbon whipped cream under the cherry on top for a Valentine’s Day dessert that beats any box of chocolates. Make this a day ahead and chill it…so you can chill until serving time.