The Old-Fashioned with Bitters

When it cmes to classic , bitters are a must-have ingredient. Bitters add a unique flavor and complexity to drinks like the Old Fashioned. In this blog post, we will discuss what bitters are and why they are essential for the perfect Old Fashioned.

Bitters are concentrated herbal and botanical extracts that have been infused with or glycerin. Historically, bitters were used as medicinal tonics for upset stomachs or oter ailments, but now they are mainly used as flavoring agents in food and drink. Bitters come in a variety of flavors such as citrus, floral, spicy, herbal, and more.

When making an Old Fashioned, bitters provide subtle notes of flavor that complement the base. The most popular choice of bitters for an Old Fashioned is Angostura Bitters. This type of is made with a blend of herbs and spices including gentian root, cinnamon bark, cardamom seeds, and more. These flavors blend together to create a complex depth of flavor that enhances the whiskey's own flavor profile.

Other types of bitters can be used in an Old Fashioned as well depending on personal preference or desired flavor profile. Orange bitters provide a citrusy flavor while Peychaud's Bitters give the drink an underlying sweetness with notes of licorice root and allspice berries. Whatever type of bitter you choose for your Old Fashioned cocktail will provide extra layers of flavor that make it truly unique and unforgettable.

No matter which type you choose, adding a few dashes of bitters to your Old Fashioned cocktail is essential for achieving the perfect balance between sweet and sour flavors—and transforming your drink from ordinary to extraordinary!

What Bitters Should Be Used in an Old Fashioned Cocktail?

When making an Old Fashioned, Angostura bitters is the gold standard. It's an aromatic bitters made from a blend of spices and herbs that adds complexity and depth to the drink. The bitterness is balanced and not overwhelming, while the herbal notes complement the sweet notes of the sugar, alcohol, and citrus in the cocktail. Other types of bitters can also be used with an Old Fashioned, such as orange, cherry, or even chocolate. However, it's best to stick with Angostura as your go-to choice for this classic whiskey cocktail.

Do Old Fashioned Cocktails Require Bitters?

Yes, an Old Fashioned absolutely nees bitters to achieve its signature flavor. Bitters are a type of alcoholic whose main purpose is to add complexity and balance to cocktails. When added to an Old Fashioned, the bitters enhance the flavors of the whiskey, sugar or simple syrup, and citrus. It's important to remember that only two to three dashes of bitters should be used – too many or too few can drastically alter the taste of the drink. Additionally, different types and qualities of bitters can change the flavor profile of the cocktail. Therefore, when making an Old Fashioned, it's important to use bitters for best results.

What Ingredients Are Found in Bitters?

Bitters are a type of flavoring agent consisting of a neutral alcohol base infused with herbs, spices, fruits, roots, tree bark, and other botanicals. Common ingredients used to make bitters include orange peel for its bright citrus flavor, gentian root for its earthy bitterness, cassia bark for its sweet aroma and flavor, cascarilla for its subtle spice notes, and cinchona bark for its medicinal properties. The exact combination of ingredients can vary from recipe to recipe, but typically the aroma and flavor of each ingredient sould be balanced in order to achieve the desired outcome. Bitters can be used in many different ways including as an essential ingredient in cocktails or as an aperitif or digestif before or after a meal.

What is the Best Bitters to Use with Bourbon?

The best bitters to use with are orange bitters. Orange bitters add a subtle hint of citrus to the drink and help enhance the natural flavors of the bourbon. The orange flavor complements the whiskey, bringing out its notes of caramel, vanilla and oak. Orange bitters also provide a spicy, aromatic flavor that helps balance out the sweetness of the bourbon, creating a more complex drink. In addition to orange bitters, other types of bitters that can be used with bourbon include aromatic (Angostura) and allspice (Pimento).

Types of Bitters

The four types of bitters produced by Angostura are Aromatic Bitters, Orange Bitters, Cocoa Bitters, and Amaro Di Angostura.

Aromatic Bitters is a unique blend of herbs and spices that adds a subtle flavor to a variety of drinks and dishes. It's the perfect addition to classic cocktails like Manhattans, Old Fashioneds, and Sazeracs.

Orange Bitters is created using a combination of orange peel and other aromatic ingredients. It adds a bright citrus flavor to cocktails such as Margaritas, Palomas, and Fizzes. It's also great for cooking – adding depth to dressings and sauces.

Cocoa Bitters is made with cocoa husk extract for an intensely chocolatey flavor with hints of bitter orange, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom. It adds an extra layer of complexity to -based drinks such as Espresso Martinis as well as desserts like Chocolate Mousse or Tiramisu.

Amaro Di Angostura is infused with Angostura's signature Aromatic Bitters for a complex herbal taste with notes of clove, nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom. The result is a smooth digestif that can be enjoyed neat or over ice after dinner or added to classic cocktails like Negronis or Americanos for an extra touch of flavor.

bitters for old fashioned

Do Angostura Bitters Need to be Used in an Old Fashioned?

No, you don't have to use Angostura bitters in an Old Fashioned. While Angostura bitters are a classic choice for the drink and work well in most recipes, there are other types of bitters that can be used as well. For example, if you're making an Old Fashioned during the winter or around the holidays, you may want to consider using Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Bitters instead. These bitters are made with a higher concentration of cinnamon and clove whih gives the drink a more festive flavor profile. Or, if you prefer something fruity, you could try experimenting with different citrus-based bitters like orange or grapefruit. Ultimately, it's up to your personal preference when it comes to choosing what type of bitters to use in your Old Fashioned!

What to Do if You Don't Have Bitters

If you do not have bitters, there are a few alternatives that can be used to provide a similar flavor profile. Amaro is a family of Italian herbal liqueurs that provide a bitter flavor, and many brands like Campari and Fernet-Branca are widely available. Amaro is usually much more concentrated than bitters, so you will only need to use a few drops. Other options include orange or lemon peels, which can also add a slightly bitter taste. You may also want to try adding herbs such as sage or thyme for an herbal flavor kick.

Substitutes for Angostura Bitters

Angostura bitters are a popular ingredient in many classic cocktails, but if you don't have any on hand, you can substitute with a few other types of aromatic bitters. Woodford Reserve Bourbon Barrel Aged Aromatic Cocktail Bitters and Fee Brothers Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters are both good alternatives to Angostura bitters. These bitters provide similar flavors and aromas, with the Woodford Reserve having a hint of bourbon and the Fee Brothers providing hints of cinnamon and clove. Peychaud's Bitters Aromatic Bitters is another option, which has notes of anise and pepper. Dashfire Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters also provides a similar flavor profile and Strongwater Golden – Old Fashioned Aromatic Craft Cocktail Bitters is another option that offers hints of cardamom, lavender, and lemon zest.

The Safety of Drinking Straight Bitters

No, we do not recommend drinking straight bitters. Bitters are a high-proof alcohol that is infused with bark, peels, herbs, spices, flowers, or other botanicals. They are often used to enhance the flavor of cocktails and other drinks. Drinking them on their own can be dangerous as they contain a very high percentage of alcohol. It is best to enjoy bitters as an ingredient in food or drinks rather than by themselves.

The Benefits of Adding Bitters to Alcohol

Bitters are an essential ingredient in many classic and cocktails. Bitters provide a complex flavor profile to drinks, balancing out the sweet and sour flavors of alcohol. They are usully made from a combination of roots, leaves, barks, spices, herbs, and other botanicals. Bitters add a depth of flavor to drinks that you can't get from any other ingredient. Bitters also act as an appetite stimulant, helping you to enjoy your cocktail even more. They can be used to enhance the flavor of existing ingredients or provide a burst of flavor when added at the end. When used correctly, bitters can help round out a cocktail and provide complexity without overpowering its original character.

Should Bitters Be Stored in the Refrigerator?

No, bitters do not need to be refrigerated. However, it is best to store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. To ensure maximum freshness, avoid storing bitters near your oven or stovetop as high temperatures and humidity can damage the flavor and quality of the product. It is best to keep bitters in a cupboard or pantry that is not exposed to high temperatures or humidity.

Adding Bitters to Whiskey: Is It Possible?

Yes, you can add bitters to whiskey. Bitters are a type of herbal extract made from a combination of plants, spices, and roots. They are used in cocktails to add complexity, depth of flavor, and balance. Bitters have the ability to mellow out the sweetness of whiskey and can enhance the flavor notes you may find in your spirit. When using bitters in a whiskey cocktail, it's best to start with just a few drops and then adjust acording to taste. Experimenting with different types of bitters can also help you find the perfect blend for your drink!

Can Bitters Be Added to Jack Daniels?

Yes, you can put bitters in Jack Daniels! Bitters are a type of flavoring agent typically made from an infusion of herbs and spices. They can be added to any beverage or spirit, including Jack Daniel's Whiskey, to add complexity and depth of flavor. When adding bitters to Jack Daniel's, look for ones that are specifically designed to work with the flavors of the whiskey. A few drops will do the trick! Just be sure to experiment with diffrent bitters and find the combination that works best for you.

Essential Bitters for Every Home Bar

Every bar should have the five essential bitters: Angostura Aromatic, Peychaud's, Regan's Orange, The Bitter Truth, and Bittermens. Angostura Aromatic is a classic choice that has been in production for nearly 200 years. It has a rich flavor with notes of clove, cinnamon, and other spices. Peychaud's is a Creole-style bitters that is well-known for its herbal flavor and bright red hue. Regan's Orange has been around since the early 1900s and provides a fruity orange flavor with hints of floral and spice. The Bitter Truth offers an intense flavor profile made up of varous herbs and spices like cardamom and gentian root. Finally, Bittermens offers a range of flavors from spicy to sweet, making it easy to customize your cocktails.

BevSpot can help you manage your bar inventory by automating ordering processes so you always have the right amount of ingredients on hand. You can also track your spending so you know exactly how much you're spending on each type of ingredient at any given time. This helps you make sure you always have enough bitters in stock while staying within budget!


Bitters for old fashioned are a key ingredient in creating a classic cocktail that has been enjoyed for centuries. They provide the signature flavor of the drink, adding depth and complexity to the overall taste. Bitters are a concentrated form of herbal extract and typically include ingredients such as cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, or orange peel. They provide balance to sweet and sour flavors and can be combined with oter ingredients to create unique flavor combinations. Bitters also aid in digestion and can help improve overall health. Whatever your preference may be, bitters for old fashioned will help you create an unforgettable experience every time.

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Thomas Ashford

Thomas Ashford is a highly educated brewer with years of experience in the industry. He has a Bachelor Degree in Chemistry and a Master Degree in Brewing Science. He is also BJCP Certified Beer Judge. Tom has worked hard to become one of the most experienced brewers in the industry. He has experience monitoring brewhouse and cellaring operations, coordinating brewhouse projects, and optimizing brewery operations for maximum efficiency. He is also familiar mixology and an experienced sommelier. Tom is an expert organizer of beer festivals, wine tastings, and brewery tours.