Today I would like to share with you some quirky knowledge about Australia that I have acquired over the past two years: Coffee, Knock-offs & Lemon-Lime Bitters
I have written about coffee before, because coffee is to Australia what, well, kangaroos are to Australia.
I was once told that the Dutch drink a lot of coffee, but we have nothing on the Aussies. When you stop for gas pretty much anywhere in Australia there is bound to be a big, shiny coffee machine with an upsidedown L-shaped extension to make perfect froth for your cuppa cap.
Every Australian has an opinion about coffee, too, and a favourite place to drink it. They take pride in their flat whites, lattes, chai lattes and picolo lattes, macchiatos, espressos, mocchas, and of course the good old cappuccino. They even have barista-contests so if you put your mind to it you can become the best coffeemaker Down Under. (In the interest of full disclosure I recently discovered these contests are not exclusively Australian, as you can see here.)
While we’re on the subject of beverages, I have to mention the knock-off drink. After you’ve worked your shift and before you go home, the boss shouts you a drink. This is to be an alcoholic drink, of course. I would almost (almost) go so far as to say it is a condition of employment.
Aussies drink. It’s just what they do. Sadly, this often is because there isn’t much else to do; it’s the only entertainment they have. Not every town will have a theatre, cinema or shopping centre, but every town will have a pub. In fact, sometimes the town is the pub (like William Creek in South Australia and Duchess in Queensland)…
Then there is the lemon-lime bitters. No one actually considers this beverage that consists of lemon soda, lemon juice or cordial and bitters to be an alcoholic drink, but “the product contains 44.7% alcohol by volume”. Having said that, you generally only put a few drops in your mocktail. According to its producer Angostura, bitters is a
[u]nique flavour enhancer (seasoning) for the preparation of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, as well as, any savoury or sweet food dishes. It tempers the acidity of citrus ingredients for individuals who are acidsensitive (also explains why Angostura® aromatic bitters can settle the stomach) [and it is] classified as a food ingredient in many countries.
Made with the same original secret recipe since 1824.
To this day I don’t quite know what the actual difference in flavour is with or without the bitters. I find this drink fascinating and incomprehensible, and utterly Australian.