Heading : 18th century bitters dispenser
Period : George III
Date : 1780 - 1820
Origin : England
Colour : Clear
Neck : Slice cut
Body : Engraved with 'Bitters' set within a foliate border with printie cuts below
Glass Type : Lead
Size : 20.5cm tall with a base of 8.4cm
Condition : Fine
Restoration : None
Weight : 408 grams
Nowadays in Britain we associate bitters with pink gin and cocktails. In the 18th and 19th century these herbal fermented concoctions were added to fortified wines to introduce some balance. Port, Canary wine, Madeira, Sack, Moscatel, Sherry, Marsala...all were tooth achingly sweet. The addition of quinine bitters was both a remedial against malaria and gave balance to the fortified wine.
Bitters in Roman times were exclusively medicinal, however, many countries have developed bitters in one of many forms. German kummerling ( of just kummel), the now fashionable Jagermeister, the hair of the dog that is Underberg, Swiss Suze, Dutch Beerenberg, Fernet Branca from Italy are all "bitters" and are mostly used as an aperatif.
In Normandy France I was introduced to "Picon" a delicious bitters that is drunk with beer. This is definitely worth seeking out.