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The bitterness of gentian yellow

Angostura (and other) Bitters, Aperol (and presumably Campari), Avèze and many more astringent liqueurs get their characteristic bitterness from a macerated extract of the Gentian root. Gentian root was once used in beer but the easier-to-source hops soon took over that role.

Bitters and Aperol I like, and I tasted Avèze for the first time while staying with friends in Paris. As you do. And I liked it.

Inevitably there are other botanicals thrown in all these concoctions to both to add flavour and intrigue, but the southern European and western Asian Gentiana lutea, is a vital part of many bitter tasting drinks.


This species is also bitter enough to repel livestock, and the tall yellow flowers (as above, on the label) apparently stand out in European pastures on one of the few ungrazed plants.

An entry in Plant(the 'Ultimate visual reference to plants and flowers of the world', edited by Janet Marinelli) highlights the vulnerability of the species given most roots are extracte…

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