How to counteract the bitter flavor in drinks?

I guess in short what I am looking for is some sort of flavor chemist to help me understand some of the basic chemical relations between certain things and taste. I had a bitter drink today and began to wonder if there is an easy way to remove or lessen the bitter taste in things.

Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of my high school chemistry and turned to the internet for a little help. I found some info on the Dutch processing of chocolate, where I belive an alkaline process is used to lessen the, I’m assuming bitter, flavor. What everything seems to suggest, though, is that alkaline is added. I thought alkalines were bitter and this leaves me somewhat confused, and not looking to research it much further, I came here. Can alkalines simply be added to bitter drinks, such as coffee or beer, in order to take away some of their bitter flavor? Are there any that are tasteless so as to not detract from the flavor of the original drink? If so, what might be some common alkalines that could be added and still leave the beverages ingestible without bodily harm?

I thought about the sour flavor, but I’m not really sure how this works with bitterness. I know that citric acid is used in soft drinks, though I presume it is not to offset bitterness, but rather possibly enhance the sweetness. Can something that is sour and acidic be used to counteract a bitter flavor? If so, again what might be added to a very bitter drink to take away the bitterness?

If there are any flavor chemists our there who have any suggestions on a flavorless, and ingestible, item to add to bitter drinks to lessen or take away the bitterness, I would love to hear it. Thanks.

There a thousands of chemicals which leave a bitter taste on the tongue. Unfortunately, there is no universal procedure for neutralizing them. While adding a base may work for some, it will not work for others. Additionally, there really isn’t a commonly available base that you can add to food items that doesn’t have its own salty, bitter, or off taste. You can try dissolving the bitter substance in an oil, such as butter, to mask its taste, or adding lots of sugar to cover it up, but neither method works well all the time.

Well, IANAFC, but…

Sour of any sort actually can go a long way to balancing or at least distracting from bitterness. Back before I developed a real taste for it, I used to put lemon slices in lukewarm black coffee to make it easier to chug. Which probably only works if you’re me.

May I ask though why you’re trying to make bitter drinks less bitter? The bitterness is a signifigant part of what makes the taste of many drinks appealing in the first place, and anything you add to cut it is going to impact other aspects of the flavor, even if it doesn’t add direct flavor of it’s own. (Assuming that’s even truly possible.)

Besides, I’m pretty sure ordering milk when you sit down at the bar means you’ll win the big gunfight later.

More of a thought experiment than anything. I like the bitter taste of many drinks, such as coffee and beer, though I know many people, kids included, don’t, so I figured there might be some common remedy that allows people with this dislike to choke down bitter drinks. I was just wondering if there was anything chemical that would change the bitterness level without really changing the other flavors and tastes too drastically.