Try adding the best cocktail bitters to your homemade libations. From classic Angostura to whimsical flavor combinations, they’re bound to take your cocktails up a notch. Or two or three.
As bartenders say, bitters are the finishing salt of cocktails.
And finishing salt should be, well, really, really good salt. Sorry, Morton’s salt girl.
Bitters are strong, botanical, alcoholic infusions that pack a serious punch for… well, punch.
Don’t know what bitters are? Let me do a quick recap from Cocktail Bitters 101.
What are cocktail bitters?
Cocktail bitters, AKA bitters, are alcoholic infusions steeped for weeks or months with botanicals like herbs, fruits, seeds, roots, flowers, leaves or bark.
The result is a strong, fragrant and flavorful liquid that you can add to cocktails for a deeper, more complex flavor.
How to use cocktail bitters
Bitters are commonly used in cocktails, but you can cook with them too.
Try adding them to baking recipes in lieu of vanilla extract, or to meat marinades and salad dressings for a more sophisticated depth of flavor.
The best cocktail bitters
I’m often asked what my favorite cocktail bitters are, and the answer is…
Well, I have a collection. I haven’t counted, but I easily own 20-30 types. Don’t @ me. (But yes, I know, and I have too many to put them in cute bottles like this for my bar cart.)
My top recommendations for flavors of cocktail bitters:
- aromatic bitters (must-have)
- orange bitters or citrus bitters (must-have)
- ginger bitters (for fall)
- cinnamon, cardamom and/or clove bitters (for winter)
- hibiscus, coconut and/or pineapple bitters (for tiki lovers)
- cherry, coffee and/or chocolate bitters (for dessert lovers)
- jalapeño, habanero or mole bitters (for spice lovers)
Make your own bitters
Did you know you can make your own bitters? You can! All it takes is some natural ingredients, some vodka and some time.
High Desert Botanicals sells a number of amazing DIY bitters kits on Etsy so you can get started quickly and follow their instructions.
I’ve never tried them myself, but it’s been on my list for years! Maybe I should put one on my Christmas list…
What are the best bitters brands?
I got you! I put together a list of my favorites for you. Just like I did with my guide to the best ginger beers, I’m covering my top brands and flavors from my own collection and bar adventures.
Bitters make great gifts for foodies and cocktail lovers alike, so this is a great list if you’re shopping for the budding mixologist in your life. (Even if it’s you.)
I love and trust all the brands presented here, so if you find another flavor by one of these brands, I say go for it — especially if it sounds intriguing to you. Bitters last a long time, so you are safe to hang onto a bottle for a while.
If you’re not sure how to use it, you can always drop me a line in my Facebook group!
I’d love to know what else you’d add to this list! Do you have other favorite brands or flavors that I didn’t cover?