Dugan and Dame Bitters and Tonics

About Our Products

Benefits of Bitters Reading About Our Products 8 minutes Next Plant Spotlight: Juniper
Dugan and Dame Cocktail Bitters and Tonic

A hell of a long time ago (over 2,000 years), this not so nice guy Mithridates VI, king of Pontus, developed the first recorded bitters formula in the Western World (until archeologists tell us otherwise). He perfected the blend after years of study in order to develop a universal antidote to poison, snake venom, and the bite of wild beasts (but mostly poison – did I mention he wasn’t a nice guy?). The blend is believed to contain many bitter plants, spices, resins, and even a touch of opium (I’m going to stop right here and assure you we do not use opium in any of our products). The formula was then blended with honey and taken by the tablespoon full daily in a time when poisonings were all too common. Mithridates had many enemies, including his own family and staff (he had his own son killed). The king consumed this potion daily to ensure he could handle any poison slipped in his meal by a traitorous servant. Legend has it that after Pompey defeated Mithridates, he fled, and the people rebelled against him. He then attempted suicide by poison but failed as his body had developed a resistance from years of consuming his bitter potion. Oh the irony. 


Mithridates VI


Ok, so we aren’t implying that our bitters (and tonics) will allow you to live like a king. BUT, we are saying they have many more benefits than simply the ‘salt and pepper’ or flavoring to a cocktail. 

Get ready for the nerdy part… Cells along our digestive tract are tuned to bitter-tasting molecules from the plant world. These receptors are a way for us to detect poison and stimulate detoxification and protection. All and all we are able to better clear harmful chemicals resulting in decreased inflammation. Recent research have shown how bitters consumed before meals actually helps the body release satiety hormones to make us feel fuller quicker… NO! We aren’t exactly saying that taking our bitters before every meal will make you lose weight…. (but it doesn’t hurt to give it a try). Bitters taken after a meal can help aid in digestion, heartburn, upset stomach and indigestion. Bitter flavors have been a part of traditional cultures as long as we have documented. When we omit this flavor profile from our diets, our digestion becomes sluggish. I promise I won’t geek out about how this physiological process occurs but the proof is in the pudding… err I mean bitters. The phytochemicals in these plants can do so much more than aid in digestion. They provide benefits to the heart, allow the body to better handle stress, enable organs to function more efficiently, have an aphrodisiacal effect (let us know when you test this one) and so much more. Herbalist James Green even coined a the term “bitter deficiency syndrome” which is used to describe the notion that many common digestive complaints are caused by a lack of bitters in a person's diet. 

The Dame At Work

Our Dame, Angela, is a budding herbalist and believes in the beautiful marriage of cocktails and healing herbs. Our bitters and tonics are painstakingly crafted using traditional herbal techniques and varying proofs of alcohol and extraction modes to elicit the most benefit from each plants phytochemicals and provide the fullest and deepest flavor profile. We do not include any artificial ingredients or flavor enhancers in our bitters or tonics. The depth in our tonics comes from decoctions of the botanicals, roots, and spices. (That’s just fancy speak for a long, slow, simmer). 



How can a hero exist without a villain? How much fun would be the weekend be without the workweek? How pleasurable truly is the Summer without the coldness of the Winter? How good can a cocktail really be without the bitter flavor to set it off? The bitter element allows the most challenging flavors to come out and be showcased just like salt enhances the flavor of food. Herbalist Guido Mase says it best, “The best of life shines brighter when framed by the challenge.” Every great drink starts (and ends) with a plant! 

Our Bitter Ghost Cocktail Bitters is crafted using a great variety of herbs and bitter plants, and finished with locally grown ghost peppers. Not for the faint of heart, this bitter really knows how to bring some heat to any libation. Ghost peppers are sneaky little peppers that come on faintly then slowly increase in heat and linger in the back of the palate. These bitters can also be added to soda water when you need to really get the digestive juices flowing or used to spice up your own culinary prowess and heat up your Chi. 

Our Morning Wood Cocktail Bitters is a combination of plants showcasing coffee as a primary flavor and a touch of sweetness from elderberry to round out the edges. After carefully blending our botanicals we allow this bitters to barrel age to a nice oaky finish. Although these bitters were created for whiskey drinks, they showcase quite unsuspectingly in tiki cocktails as well.

Our Classic Tonic features Juniper Berries, the quintessential staple for Gin and Tonics. Would you expect anything else? We hand zest citrus to provide a bright flavor that cannot be accomplished through dried rinds. We then utilize a blend of herbs and quassia bark to add depth and bitterness. Yes, we understand that classically tonic utilizes cinchona bark, which contains quinine. We have intentionally chosen quassia bark as our bittering agent as it provides a much more sharper bitterness allowing the other botanicals to shine through. The  bitter phytochemical in quassia is 50 times more bitter than quinine and is considered the bitterest chemical to exist, making it a fantastic natural insecticide and parasite purger (in case you are planning on eating something questionable). And if you’re feeling frisky you can always rub our tonic all over your body to deter the bugs. Hey we don’t judge.

Our Five Spice Tonic plays homage to Chinese cuisine encompassing all five flavors – sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty. Made in the same style as our classic recipe, this tonic provides much depth and warming spices to cocktails. This mixer especially plays well with reposado tequila. Our tonics have so much character that they can either enhance a spirit or stand up nicely on their own for a beautiful and rich non-alcoholic drink. 

Our Aromatic Bitters utilize a blend of spices, gentian root, and flowers to provide a unique aromatic experience. Cinnamon is the primary flavor, followed by a blend of fall spice. The flowers and currants really round out the flavor profile. Aromatics are any plants that support the olfactory system. As the name applies, they are all strong in scent. What we smell can impact memories, our nervous system, our respiratory system, inflammation and more. Now combine the fragrance with its consumption and you really have a powerhouse of impact.

Our Sassy Bitters pay homage to root beer, sarsaparilla and sassafras beverages from the ole South. There’s something out these flavors that really ground us in the present as well as allow us to reminisce about our childhood. It incredible how things that take us back to our childhood can really lighten our spirits and bring a little bit of fun and magic to our present day.

Our Lady Gray Bitters were created as a play off of Earl Grey Tea. But instead of Camellia Sinensis (tea leaves that we are most familiar with), we utilize the Yaupon Holly leaves. Yaupon Holly is the only caffeinated plant native to America. Still relatively unknown, it is slowly but surely making a comeback in our culture. We use organic Yaupon that is grown here in Florida and provides a nice caffeinated kick to our bitters. Keeping some tradition in store we utilize bergamot just like in Earl Grey Tea which gives it that familiar flavor. Stimulating in effect and high in antioxidants, these ingredients can really uplift the spirit.

Our Smoke'n Flowers Tonic is a perfect balance of masculine and feminine components that can really provide for some interesting character to any cocktail. We use a smoked black tea in order to add the element of smoke (which also makes this tonic caffeinated). The marriage of calendula and chamomile flowers create a sophisticated flavor that can definitely stand on its own or provide complexity to any creative cocktail.