The Bitter Truth announces the introduction—well, in a sense, re-introduction—of a new product, more than 150-years-old: Bogart’s Bitters. Bogart’s was the original bitters called for in the first cocktail book ever published, The Bar-Tender’s Guide: How to mix Drinks, or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion penned by Jerry Thomas in 1862. Though in Thomas’s time the brand was sold as “Boker’s Bitters,” it is believed a misspelling by Thomas himself led to it being listed as “Bogart’s” in all of the book’s printings before his death in 1885 (affecting the 1862 and 1876 versions). In homage to Thomas’s legacy, The Bitter Truth – Bogart’s Bitters will be released in limited quantity in February.
Before the turn of the 20th century, medicinal bitters composed a robust category, with several brands available for multiple uses, including as a key ingredient in cocktails. But when the FDA was founded, many of these brands were forced to stop using the word “medicinal” on their labels. This resulted in the shuttering of several companies at the onset of Prohibition and pushed Boker’s/Bogart’s off the shelves in 1920. The original recipe was lost, but a handful of bottles still remained and are highly coveted among spirits historians and enthusiasts.