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Feature

March 2, 2021
The 21 Best (And Most Interesting) Bitters For Your Home Bar
Sasparilla, curry, hopped grapefruit, and more.
Written by

Think of bitters as the cocktail equivalents of the spices you use when cooking. They can help emphasize certain tasting notes, or - with just a few drops - they can bring entirely new flavors to your drink of choice. Plus, bitters are, um, bitter - which means they can help balance anything sweet things you throw in a drink. So if you’re ready to get serious about your cocktail construction (or if you’re tired of tasting the same old things), it’s time to add a few to your bar cart.

Read on for to learn about the best bitters from classics like Angostura and Peychauds to newer ones that incorporate flavors like celery and mole. And if you need ideas on how to use them, consider a Spicy Margarita or a lavender-scented Martini.

The Time-Honored Classic

If you only have one bottle of bitters in your home, make it Angostura. Simply put, it’s an absolute classic. With its baking spice profile (cinnamon, clove, cardamom, etc), you can use Angostura anywhere from a Manhattan to a Mojito, and you’ll see it in just about every bar.

Get Angostura Bitters ($17 for 2) →

The New Orleans Standby

Another certified classic, Peychaud’s originated in New Orleans in the early 19th century, and it’s an essential ingredient in the classic cocktail known as the Sazerac. The bitters are bright red with a pronounced anise flavor, and we always have a bottle lying around. Make sure you do as well.

Get Peychaud’s Bitters ($13) →

A Bar Cart Essential

There are lots of different orange bitters out there (it seems like every brand makes a version), but our top pick is Regan’s. They’re bright, complex, and powerfully bitter.

Get Regan’s Bitters ($13) →

For The Old Fashioned Lover

Marc Farrell of Ten To One Rum turned us onto these Bittercube bitters - and he specifically recommends them for a Rum Old Fashioned. But cherry bark, vanilla, and fennel pollen should work well with just about any Old Fashioned (especially one with rye).

Get Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters ($24) →

A Quick Burst Of Flavor

Yes, celery bitters exist - and you need them. Why? Because you never know when you’ll want to turn a plain old Gimlet into a luxurious-tasting Celery Gimlet. Just add a few drops of this, and you’ll have an immediate upgrade (as long as you like celery).

Get Scrappy’s Celery Bitters ($22) →

A Summer Breeze, In Bitters Form

You should also pick some of Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters. They smell like a lush, purple field in the middle of summer and work in everything from a gin Martini to a Whiskey Sour, preferably with an egg white.

Get Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters ($22) →

The Bitters With Depth

A necessary ingredient for the mezcal-based (and perhaps underrated) Oaxaca Old Fashioned, these bitters are perfect for whenever you want to add a rich chocolate/cinnamon bite to a drink.

Get Xocolatl Mole Bitters ($22) →

A Modern Classic

Frankly, Bittermens makes amazing bitters, so we could easily recommend every single one of their products. But we’ll stick to a few. After you go the mole route, pick up these tiki bitters. They flavored with allspice and cardamom and are, unsurprisingly, ideal in tiki drinks.

Get Bittermen’s Tiki Bitters ($36 for 2) →

A Highly Specific & Highly Delicious Bitters

Hops and grapefruit? Don’t overthink it. These two things go wonderfully together, and they taste even better in a Margarita.

Get Bittermen’s Hopped Grapefruit Bitters ($17) →

The Bitters You'll Want To Drink Neat

Amargo Chuncho bitters are smooth, slightly sweet, and have an unmistakable yet hard-to-define flavor. (It’s sort of like banana saltwater taffy.) They’re from Peru, so a Pisco Sour is a no-brainer here, but go ahead and use them anywhere you’d use Angostura.

Amargo Chuncho Bitters ($15) →

A Convenient Touch Of Heat

These bitters are not only bitter - they’re spicy as well. A few drops will add some heat, chili flavor, and a vaguely cinnamony quality to your cocktails. Do yourself a favor, and throw these in a Paloma or an El Diablo.

Get Hella Chili Bitters ($20) →

How To Fix Your G&Ts

Don’t just drink a plain gin and tonic or vodka soda. Drink a gin and tonic or vodka soda with a few dashes of these spicy ginger bitters. Afraid you’ll use too much? Don’t be. These bitters are surprisingly subtle.

Get Hella Ginger Bitters ($20) →

The Angostura Alternative

Fresh, bright, and slightly sweet, consider these Jack Rudy bitters your slightly fancier alternative to Angostura. They’re perfect for when you need something less bitter and assertive, and more spice-forward. Try them in a Champagne Cocktail.

Get Jack Rudy Bitters ($20) →

The Universal Bitters

Orange bitters get all the attention - but, in reality, lemon bitters are just as good and versatile. So pick up a bottle of these bitters from Bitter Truth, and feel free to use them in whatever cocktail comes to mind, whether that be a Penicillin, a Jungle Bird, or a White Negroni.

Get Bitter Truth Lemon Bitters ($20) →

For When You're Tired Of Orange And Lemon

Remember what we just said about lemon bitters? The same goes for grapefruit. Add these to Daiquiri or Old Fashioned, or substitute them for orange bitters in your next Astoria.

Get Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters ($20) →

Bitters For The Holiday Season

These bitters taste almost exactly like that two-month window when people bake pumpkin pie and drink apple cider. They’re cinnamon-heavy and perfect for a Maple Old Fashioned.

Get Fee Brothers Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters ($13) →

A Great Bitters To Mess Around With

Please, make a Daiquiri with Bitter End’s Curry Bitters. Or try the honey-infused Whiskey Sour variation known as the Gold Rush. The fact is, most of your cocktails could probably use some more coriander, cumin, and cayenne.

Get Bitter End Curry Bitters ($23) →

Your Lemongrass Savior

Bartender and bar consultant Gates Otsuji recommends these reasonably spicy Thai Spice Bitters from San Francisco-based Bitter Queens, and we’re more than ready to hop on board. Get some lemongrass, chile, and ginger in your next drink.

Get Bitter Queens Thai Spice Bitters ($21) →

Whiskey's Best Friend

It’s a dream of ours to open a cocktail bar where the only mixer is root beer. Until that happens, however, these root beer-like sasparilla bitters can fill that void. Mix them into anything involving whiskey.

Get Bitter Queens Sasparilla Bitters ($21) →

For When You're Feeling Ambitious

The bottle looks like something you’d use to store aspirin in 1910, but don’t let that throw you off. These are some seriously complex, modern bitters. They have heat, smoke, spice, and a touch of sweet pear flavor, which all adds up to a very long finish. Go the gin/vodka/mezcal route here.

Get Get King Floyd’s Scorched Pear & Ginger Bitters ($20) →

Bitters That Smell Like Canada

It makes sense that these bitters are from Canada. They taste like something you’d make if you went foraging in a coniferous forest for several days. Use them to make yourself a wintry Manhattan.

Get Ms. Better’s Cyprus Bowl Bitters ($29) →

We’re recommending these products because we actually use, and like, them. Things you buy through our links may earn us a commission.

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