The use of bitters can be traced back for centuries, although it's thought that the origin of bitters may have been in ancient Egypt, when herbs were infused in wine. Certainly, by the Middle Ages, botanical ingredients were being soaked in distilled alcohol; the resulting tinctures were taken medicinally. Historically, these tinctures, elixirs and bitters were concocted to treat various ailments including, but not limited to, digestive maladies.

Bitters are the result of combining botanical and/or aromatic herbs, bittering agents, alcohol and water. Botanical ingredients might include seeds, leaves, spices, herbs, flowers or fruit peels. Typical bittering agents are usually bitter herbs, barks or roots. Bitters differ from tinctures in their inclusion of bitter ingredients.

The use of bitters in cocktails dates to 1806, when the term "cocktail" first surfaced in a newspaper in New York. These cocktails were to contain, "spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters..." Bitters are the perfect counterpoint to sweet stuff in a drink! They make for a better, more rounded, and balanced cocktail. Furthermore, bitters can be used in cooking and in non-alcoholic drinks with a very pleasant effect.


Free Pour Jenny's creates small-batch, handcrafted cocktail bitters using homegrown and wild, foraged ingredients in Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, in northern Canada. The boreal forest that surrounds and includes Whitehorse is a perfect place for foraging for these amazing ingredients. Many of the ingredients that I am picking for bitters have been used by First Nations for centuries in traditional cooking and to treat different ailments.

My ingredients are hand-picked or grown in small amounts, and the bitters are then made with the fresh ingredients during the short growing season. As such, some flavours are seasonal and will be available in limited quantity.

Free Pour Jenny's bitters are currently available online here! You may also find my bitters in Whitehorse, Dawson City, Carcross, Johnson's Crossing, Atlin, and Calgary. Click on Where to Find for details.

Photo Credit (this page): Simon Blakesley