About Cocktail Bitters and Elixirs

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 for Cocktail Bitters and Elixirs

Liber & Co. Fiery Ginger Syrup
95 points
$10
Best Buy
Tasted as a Moscow Mule cocktail. Golden straw color. Attractive, spicy aromas and flavors of fresh sliced ginger, freshly ground nutmeg, galangal, and hint of egg nog with a supple, racy, dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body and a warming, complex, endless finish that shows notes of honeyed ginger root, ginger tea with lemon, and white peppercorn finish. A fabulously fresh and commanding ginger-forward Moscow Mule that warmly stimulates the senses.
95 points $10 Best Buy
Keep It Simple Syrup Classic Sugar Cane Simple Syrup
92 points
$8.99
Best Buy
Tasted as an Old Fashioned cocktail. Aromas and flavors of good and plenty, spiced caramelized nuts, pear nectar, and grilled peach with a satiny, moderately sweet medium-to-full body and a tingling, interesting, long finish manifesting impressions of cinnamon candy and pepper jelly on raisin toast finish. A bright and inviting Old Fashioned with a lively, tingling spicy palate; the syrup is a clean, rock solid base and adds subtle fruit tones.
92 points $8.99 Best Buy
Keep It Simple Syrup Spearmint-Infused Simple Syrup
92 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Tasted as a Mojito cocktail. Minty aromas and flavors of white chocolate mint cookie and mint cream with a supple, vibrant, moderately sweet medium body and a smooth, layered, long finish with accents of citrus and melon relish and mint gum finish. An inviting and wonderfully balanced mojito with pure mint flavor from artfully infused syrup; try with tea, too!
92 points $9.99 Best Buy
King Floyd’s Cherry Cacao Bitters
92 points
$19.99
Tasted as a Old Fashioned cocktail. Amber color. Inviting aromas and flavors of toffee, chocolate orange peels and nuts, and hint of oven roasted tomatoes and cherries sprinkled with paprika with a satiny, soft, fruity sweet full body and a tingling, long finish with notes of caramel cream, dried figs, and grilled peach finish. A delightfully savory and complex Old Fashioned cocktail; the bitters really amplify with chocolate and dried fruity/savory tones.
92 points $19.99
Keep It Simple Syrup Lemon Zest-Infused Simple Syrup
90 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Tasted as a French 75 cocktail. Aromas and flavors of lemon soufflé and meringue, hint of mint tea, and juniper honey with a supple, vibrant, moderately sweet medium body and a seamless, complex, long finish revealing suggestions of lemon marmalade on pound cake and vanilla gelato finish. A rich and flavorful cocktail with everything in exquisite balance; the lemon syrup provides an enveloping, supportive base for the gin and bubbly to soar.
90 points $9.99 Best Buy
King Floyd’s Barrel Aged Aromatic Bitters
89 points
$24.99
Tasted as a Old Fashioned cocktail. Dark reddish brown color. Aromas of gentian, cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and ginseng with a supple, bitter light-to-medium body and a warming, interesting, medium-length grilled rhubarb, anise, and mace finish. A dark toned and punchy bitter.
89 points $24.99
Keep It Simple Syrup Ginger-Infused Simple Syrup
88 points
$9.99
Best Buy
Tasted as a Moscow Mule cocktail. Spicy aromas and flavors of candied ginger slice and lime and melon rind with a supple, bright, fruity light-to-medium body and a graceful, breezy finish with overtones of lemon ginger sorbet finish. A pleasant easy drinking Mule with nicely restrained ginger.
88 points $9.99 Best Buy
Maison Boinaud OAKER Barrel-Aged Elixir
86 points
$21
Pale straw color. Aromas of marshmallow, vanilla, molasses, tobacco, dried currant, and licorice with a lightly tannic, soft, dryish medium body and an engaging, medium-length creme finish. A creamy, stealthy oak-bomb to be used sparingly by skilled bartenders to add texture and flavor to cocktails.
Liber & Co. Almond Orgeat Syrup
85 points
$10
Tasted as a Mai Tai cocktail. Creamy opaque golden amber color. Nutty aromas and flavors of roasted almond oil, floury almond cookie, cherry preserves, and waffle potato chip with a gritty, fruity sweet light-to-medium body and an effortless, medium-length finish that exhibits nuances of cherry kefir, almond strudel, lemon-lime curd, and nut skin and oil finish. A tasty Mai Tai that will suit most tropical occasions, serve with ice.
Traverse City Whiskey Co. Premium Cocktail Cherries
84 points
$16.99
Tasted as a Manhattan cocktail. Dark red color. Roasted aromas of smoked nuts and peppercorns, grilled peach and cherry, mesquite honey, and charcoal with a supple, crisp, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a tingling, buoyant unsweetened sassafras, fruitcake with nuts, and dill finish. Mild and just lightly sweet cherries to support the flavors in a Manhattan.
84 points $16.99