Briana Holt is as likely to reach for cocktail bitters on the job at her bakery as she is for her after-hours spritzer. That’s because she loves how a few dashes of bitters can transform otherwise basic baked goods.

The co-owner and head baker at Tandem Bakery in Portland, Maine, says cocktail bitters bring a “secret special vibe” to desserts, particularly anything rich or fatty. Their botanical notes add easy, bold complexity to recipes that otherwise can be a little flat. For example, Angostura bitters in a buttermilk custard pie lends “a mysterious depth that brings it from old-­fashioned to fun and new.”

Holt also adds bitters to fruit pies, jams and compotes, and whipped cream. And while common Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters are good just about anywhere, she also likes to collect unusual flavors, such as blackstrap molasses from Bittercube and pine from Coastal Root Bitters.

At Milk Street, we also recommend using bitters in savory dishes. Add a few dashes to pan sauces for sautéed pork and chicken, or to a light glaze for roasted carrots.