The earliest knowledge of bitters goes back to the ancient Egyptians. Bitters were transformed during the Middle Ages with the availability of distilled alcohol. They were developed for their medicinal properties and their supposed calming effects on the stomach and the digestive system.
In the 19th century it was becoming increasingly popular to add herbal bitters to wine. In 1806, an American publication first coined the term 'cocktail' which was described as a mix of ' a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.