About Cocktail Bitters

Cocktail bitters are combinations of bitter herbs, barks, and other botanicals in a neutral alcohol base designed to be added in minute quantities to give final layers of aromatic and flavor complexity to cocktails.

The most common type of cocktail bitters, aromatic bitters have their origins in the digestive and therapeutic tonics of the late 19th Century and were perfected during the golden age of cocktails in the early 20th Century. In recent years, the craft cocktail movement has inspired myriad faithful recreations, reinterpretations, and exotic experimentation using almost every conceivable edible or botanical ingredient.

Cocktail bitters are not to be confused with bitter liqueurs such as Italian amaros or fernets which have a higher sugar content and are designed to be consumed on their own or in cocktails. Due to their pungent bitterness, one would not drink cocktails bitters on their own, unless you are a bartender of course.

Top Picks and Reviews for Cocktail Bitters

220516
The Bitter Truth
Drops & Dashes Roots Bitters
Tasted as a Old Fashioned cocktail. Golden amber color. Aromas and flavors of toffee, orange-peach chutney, and fig bread with a round, tangy, fruity sweet medium-to-full body and a warming, complex, long creme brulee, brown spices, and leather finish. In an Old Fashioned these bitters dovetail completely and add dried fig, licorice and spice notes to compliment the cocktail.
94 points $18 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
220657
Weatherby’s
Orange Saffron Bitters
Tasted as a Gin Martini cocktail. Slivery straw color. Aromas and flavors of juniper, orange fruit cake, pine sap, and saffron with a satiny, bright, dry medium body and a tingling, interesting, medium-long orange peel, pine, cardamom, and chamomile and pollen finish. In a gin martini these bitters add delicious orange spice cake and fruit cake bass notes that offset the herbal juniper forward gin and then an ethereal saffron high note that lingers.
94 points $18 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
210443
The Bitter Truth
Cucumber Bitters
Tasted as a Pisco Sour cocktail. Golden amber color. Peppery, earthy fruity curious aromas of marinated cucumbers, cracked pepper, and fleur de sel with a body and a cucumber slices and squash finish. The cucumber flavor of this bitter meshes nicely with the floral notes of the pisco in the pisco sour and add a nice layer of spice giving a creamy meringue like effect.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
210379
Regans’
No. 6 Orange Bitters
Tasted as a Gin Martini cocktail. Brilliant bright gold color. Interesting, complex smoky woody aromas of smoked peppercorns, pine bark, coriander, and gentian with a body and a lemongrass, wet cedar, and grapefruit rind finish. This earthy bitters meshes well in the martini the pineyness of the juniper is really amplified and the overall effect is a very woodsy fall like one with the spice in support.
93 points $7.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
210034
Dutch’s Spirits
Colonial Bitters
Tasted as an Old Fashioned cocktail. Bright hazy copper color. Woody, complex oaky spicy aromas of mace, saffron, anise, and pepper marinated meat with a body and a sassafras, cola, and salt and pepper finish. This bitters adds meaty earthy bases notes to the old fashioned cocktail while popping the cherry flavor; this will work great with all whisky based cocktails.
93 points $17.95
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
210035
Dutch’s Spirits
Boomtown Bitters
Tasted as an Old Fashioned cocktail. Clear amber color. Spicy, savory aromas of sandalwood incense, Indian spices, gingerbread, and honeyed citrus with a body and a nougat finish. This bitters integrates perfectly and adds multiple layers of exotic spice and earthy incense-like tones to the old fashioned cocktail; a super choice for whisky, rum and Asian themed cocktails.
93 points $17.95
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
206143
The Bitter Truth
Peach Bitters
On its own nice dried peach, ground nut, and savory soy aromas lead. On the palate, a bit of sarsaparilla and cola emerge. In the Martini cocktail, fresh peach notes appear nicely on the body and finish versus the nose and compliment and amplify the citrus notes of the martini quite deliciously. And if you ever wanted to try a shot of bitters, try this one.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
206404
Bittered Sling
Cascade Celery Bitters
Aromas of celery salt and lemon pepper. Palate confirms the nose with a hint of white toffee. In the Pisco Sour the celery and peppercorn notes show well on the nose and body and give the cocktail and more savory, dry, culinary quality topped with a lemon chiffon note. Very nice and very versatile bitters.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
206405
Bittered Sling
Malagasy Chocolate Bitters
Aromas of chocolate covered lemon peels, potpourri, and verbena. Perfume notes amplify on the palate with an almost eau-de-vie like quality. In the Pisco Sour cocktail, the chocolate plays nicely with the lime and pisco, tasting almost like and chocolate lemon poppyseed muffin. Fun.
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab
215664
Riemerschmid
Angobitters Bitter
Tasted as an Old Fashioned cocktail. Opaque sedimentary mahogany color. Lively, woody aromas and flavors of spice barks, sandalwood, exotic peppercorns, and rhubarb and green tomato with a supple, bright, dry body and an interesting, medium-length dried citrus and earth finish. This a vivacious and well-balanced bitters that adds a lot of warm, woody spice tones to cocktails, in particular whisky-based cocktails like the old fashioned.
92 points $14.99 Best Buy
Date Tasted: in our Chicago tasting lab