So many cocktail recipes call for dashes of bitters, but how much actually is that and does it really matter?
Bitters are the flavor glue of the cocktail world. They add little hints of flavor that can take a drink from good to great by helping marry the other ingredients together.
Or, in some cases, they can take a front row seat as a full blown ingredient to create something packed with flavor like in a Sazerac or a Trinidad Sour.
Almost every time that bitters are used the recipe will call for a certain number of dashes, so how much actually is that?
How much is a dash?
A dash of bitters is 1/32 oz (or just over 1/8 tsp) which is about how much comes out of a standard bitters bottle with one firm shake.
The standard style bottle I'm referring to is the long neck version used by Angostura, Peychauds, and Regan's Orange Bitters. There are other styles of bottles and droppers that dispense different amounts.
How many drops in a dash?
There are about 10 individual drops of bitters a single dash, so no, a drop and a dash are NOT the same.
How to measure a dash
To measure out a dash hold your bitters bottle open above your cocktail mixing glass and in one smooth motion flip it upside down and give it a strong shake.
A small stream should come out if you've done it right that will be about 1/8 oz.
If you are using bitters from a dropper bottle use 10 drops per dash that the recipe calls for. After you've measured out 10 drops a few times you'll get an idea for how far up the glass dropper the liquid should come so you can squeeze it right in without counting the drops.
Different types of bitters bottles
Bitters companies use all different shapes and styles of bottles that will put out different amounts of liquid.
So a "dash" measured out of one bottle might be different from the one sitting next to it on your ingredients shelf.
That's why at some cocktail bars you will notice the bartenders have poured the bitters out of their original containers into a set of identical bottles their dashes are all the same.
Does my dash need to be perfect?
It sure doesn't. As long as you're adding about the right amount to your drink it will be just fine.
Use your judgement.
If one of your bottle puts out little dinky dashes add in another one or two to get closer to that 1/8 tsp mark that comes from a classic angostura style bottle.
The angle you hold the bottle, how full it is, and the type of top it has will make every dash a little different, but as home bartenders we shouldn't obsess over it too much. So long as it's pretty close to the amount called for in the recipe you will have a damn fine drink.
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