Aromas are all around us, influencing our impressions and experiences. At Possets, we focus on creating
pleasant, unique aromatics that belong on your wrist or bosom. Other companies provide a
complementary olfactory product — aromatics for cocktails.
In 1948, an American attorney named David A. Embury published a book called “The Fine Art of Mixing
Drinks.” Embury was well acquainted with the pleasure of a proper cocktail, and his book lays out
the principles that lead to the perfect beverage. He divides his drinks into two categories: aromatic and
sour. Aromatic cocktails are enhanced with big flavors from small doses of potent ingredients like bitters
or aromatic wines.
Adding an aromatic component to spice up a cocktail makes all the sense in the world since a purported
80% of our tasting experience comes from smell. Imagine a glass of iced black tea with a big garnish of
mint on the rim. Although the mint is not inside the tea itself, the scent of the fresh herb will add a depth
of flavor experience to the drink. The same is true for the orange peel in the classic Old Fashioned. It just
sits on the edge of the glass, but its presence manages to add a citrus layer to the drink’s taste.
The very first cocktail was the Sazerac, invented in the 1800s in New Orleans, or so the story goes. It’s a
rye whiskey-based drink with a triple serving of aromatic ingredients — an absinthe rinse (just a swish
around the glass before it gets poured out), a dash of Peychaud’s Bitters, and a lemon peel garnish.
Peychaud’s Bitters are now a staple on every bar cart and were concocted by the very man who is said to
have created the Sazerac. They’re similar to Angostura bitters in that they both have a foundation of
gentian plants, but Peychaud’s Bitters add anise and mint to the mix.
Bitters are a big key in adding aromatics to a cocktail. A Washington Post article from a few years ago
explains that their “non-potable” label puts them in the same category as vanilla extract. Each is
alcoholic, but no one wants to drink them. Their solo presence is amazing to inhale, but unpleasant to
taste, yet when added to a batch of cookies or drink, they complete the recipe.
Nowadays, there are hundreds of options for bitters beyond the classics, like Palo Santo bitters or Wild
Mountain Sage bitters from DRAM Apothecary, a small company based in Colorado. They’re known for
foraging whatever ingredients they can and creating bitters that have digestive benefits as well as the
flavorful aromatics. You could also try enhancing your cocktails with aromatic mists. These sprays are
said to be crafted with the technique of a perfumer, and add a strong aromatic experience to drinks.
Scent has a subtle way of influencing our experiences, especially those of dining and drinking. You can
have some fun building your own aromatic profiles around your favorite spirit or in a non-alcoholic
by Katrina Eresman