How to Use Bitters in Cocktails

How to Use Bitters in Cocktails?

Begin with a small amount: Bitters are strong, so just a few dashes or drops will flavor your drink. Start with 2-3 dashes and adjust as you like.

Match with suitable spirits: Bitters enhance the taste of dark spirits such as whiskey, rum, and cognac, and also mix well with clear spirits like gin and vodka.

Balance sweet tastes: Use bitters to counteract the sweetness in drinks that contain fruit juices, syrups, or sweet liqueurs, creating a more complex taste.

Try various bitters: Explore different flavors of bitters, including Angostura, orange, grapefruit, and chocolate, to discover their impact on your drink.

Mix bitters early: Add bitters before ice and other mix-ins to blend the flavors well.

Garnish with bitters: Sprinkling bitters on top of your cocktail can enhance its aroma and look.

Mix bitters with other flavors: Bitters go well with vermouth, amari, and fortified wines for richer, more layered drinks.

What is Bitters

Bitters are a liquid with a strong, bitter taste, created by soaking various herbs, spices, fruits, and ingredients in alcohol. This liquid is then used to enhance the flavor of cocktails and drinks.

Originating centuries ago, bitters were first used medicinally to aid digestion and soothe stomach problems. However, their role evolved, and now they are primarily added to drinks to balance sweetness with their potent bitter flavor.

Today, a vast array of bitters are available, ranging from Angostura bitters, known for their spicy aroma, to citrusy orange bitters, and sweet cherry bitters. These are popular among bartenders and drink enthusiasts for their ability to deepen and balance drink flavors.

Only a tiny amount of bitters is needed in mixing drinks due to their intense flavor.

A few dashes can significantly enhance the overall taste, similar to how a pinch of salt can amplify the flavors in food.

How to Use Bitters in Cocktails

Bitters are strong flavor liquids. In cocktails, start with just a tiny bit. A few drops can add a special taste and make your drink more interesting.

Adding too much can hide other tastes in your drink. Start small, then add more slowly to match what you like. The aim is to make the drink better, not bitter.

Match with Suitable Spirits

Bitters and dark spirits like whiskey, rum, and cognac go well together. They also can make sweet drinks with clear liquors like vodka and gin taste better.

Try mixing bitters with different drinks to see what you like best. For example, Angostura bitters are good with bourbon and orange bitters are nice with gin. Mix and match to discover new tastes.

Fix Too Much Sweetness

Bitters are great for making very sweet drinks taste just right. Some drinks have a lot of sugar from juices or syrups. A bit of bitters can balance the sweetness.

The bitter taste works against the sweet, making the drink more balanced. This is a good way to make sure your drink isn’t too sweet.

Try Various Bitters

There are many kinds of bitters like Angostura, orange, and chocolate. Each has its own taste.

Using different bitters can change a drink in fun ways. Trying new ones lets you find great flavors. Don’t be shy to try different kinds to see which ones you like.

Add Bitters Early

Put bitters in your drink before other things. This helps mix the bitter taste well with the drink.

Adding bitters last might not mix the flavors well. Putting them in first makes sure the taste is even throughout your drink.

Use Bitters for Decoration

Bitters can also make your drink look and smell nice. Putting a few drops on top of a drink adds a nice touch.

This works well for drinks in tall glasses. The bitters add a nice smell and look to your drink.

Mix with Other Flavors

Bitters go well with other drink flavors like vermouth and amari. These have deep tastes that get better with bitters.

Mixing bitters with these can make a drink more interesting. Try different mixes for unique beverages.

How to Choose the Perfect Bitters

Choosing the best bitters for your cocktail involves trying different kinds to find the perfect taste.

Consider the Main Spirit

Different bitters match different spirits. For example, Angostura bitters with their spicy taste go well with whiskey and rum. Orange bitters fit gin and vodka drinks better.

Match the bitters to your spirit’s flavor. Mixing different bitters and spirits lets you find exciting taste combinations.

Explore Different Flavors

There are many bitters and flavors, not just Angostura. You can find citrus, cherry, chocolate, grapefruit, and lavender bitters. Each adds a unique touch to your drink.

Spend time learning about the various bitters. Think about how their flavors might mix with your favorite cocktails. Trying new things can lead to great discoveries.

Match with the Recipe

Besides the main spirit, think about your cocktail’s other ingredients when picking bitters. For drinks with fruit juice, citrus bitters might work well. For spicy or herbal drinks, aromatic bitters could be a good match.

Choose bitters that balance and enhance your drink’s flavors. It might take some trying and changing, but it’s a fun part of making cocktails.

Start with a Few Drops

Always start with a small amount of bitters. Bitters are strong, so a little goes a long way.

Add a couple of dashes, mix, and taste. You can add more if needed, but fixing a drink that’s too bitter is hard. Go slow and find the balance you like.


1. How much bitters should I add to my cocktail?
Start with just a few dashes of bitters, as they’re highly concentrated. After mixing, taste your drink and adjust. A little can significantly impact the flavor, so it’s best to add more as needed.

2. Can I mix different types of bitters in one cocktail?
Yes, mixing different bitters can create complex and unique flavors. Experiment with combinations to discover what works best for your taste. However, remember to start with small amounts to ensure no single flavor overpowers the others.

3. Do bitters go bad?
Bitters have a long shelf life due to their high alcohol content but can lose potency over time. If stored properly in a cool, dark place, bitters can last for years without spoiling, though the flavors may mellow.

4. Are bitters necessary for all cocktails?
Not all cocktails require bitters, but they can add depth and complexity to many drinks. Bitters are essential in classics like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan. Experiment to see how they can enhance your favorite cocktails.

5. Can I make my own bitters?
Yes, making your own bitters is possible and allows for complete control over the flavors. The process involves infusing alcohol with your choice of botanicals, spices, and fruits. It requires some experimentation and patience but can be a rewarding way to personalize your cocktails.

Similar Posts