Bitters are a crucial component of many popular cocktails. These botanical extracts are used to add complexity and depth to drinks, and they come in a wide range of flavors and strengths. In this article, we will explore the different types of drinks that contain bitters and the benefits they bring to the table.

Bitters are a type of flavoring that add a bitter, herbal or spicy taste to beverages. They are often used in cocktails to provide depth and complexity to the drink. Many classic cocktails, such as the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, rely on bitters for their distinctive taste. In this discussion, we will explore what drinks commonly include bitters and how they enhance the overall flavor profile.

The Role of Bitters in Cocktails

Bitters are an essential ingredient in many classic cocktails, including the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and Negroni. They provide a bitter, herbaceous flavor that balances out the sweetness of the other ingredients. Additionally, bitters help to stimulate the appetite and aid in digestion, making them a popular choice for pre-dinner drinks.

How Bitters are Made

Bitters are made by steeping botanicals such as herbs, spices, and fruits in high-proof alcohol. The resulting infusion is then combined with a bittering agent such as gentian or wormwood. The exact recipe for bitters varies depending on the brand and the flavor profile desired.

Different Types of Bitters

There are many different types of bitters available, each with its unique flavor profile. Some of the most popular types include:

  • Angostura Bitters: A classic bitters made from a secret blend of herbs and spices. It has a complex flavor profile, with notes of cinnamon, clove, and allspice.
  • Peychaud’s Bitters: A bright red bitters with a sweet, floral aroma. It is commonly used in New Orleans-style cocktails such as the Sazerac.
  • Orange Bitters: Made from the peels of Seville oranges, this bitters has a bright, citrusy flavor that pairs well with gin and other light spirits.
  • Chocolate Bitters: As the name suggests, this bitters has a rich, chocolatey flavor that is perfect for adding depth to cocktails made with dark spirits such as whiskey and rum.

Cocktails that Use Bitters

Bitters are a key ingredient in many classic cocktails, as well as some more modern creations. Here are some of the most popular cocktails that use bitters:

Bitters are essential in many popular cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Negroni. They are made by steeping botanicals in high-proof alcohol and combining them with a bittering agent. Different types of bitters are available, including Angostura, Peychaud’s, Orange, and Chocolate bitters. Bitters can also be used in non-alcoholic drinks like sparkling water, hot tea, and iced coffee. Adding bitters contributes to the complexity and depth of flavor in drinks while also aiding in digestion and stimulating the appetite.

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is one of the oldest and most iconic cocktails of all time. It is made by muddling a sugar cube with bitters and water, then adding ice and whiskey. The drink is finished with a twist of citrus peel.


The Manhattan is a classic whiskey cocktail that is made by combining whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. It is typically garnished with a cherry.


The Negroni is a classic Italian cocktail that is made by combining gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. It is garnished with a twist of orange peel.


The Sazerac is a classic New Orleans cocktail that is made with rye whiskey, absinthe, and Peychaud’s bitters. It is typically served in a chilled glass that has been rinsed with absinthe.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks with Bitters

Bitters are not just for cocktails. They can also be used to add flavor and depth to non-alcoholic drinks such as soda, tea, and coffee. Here are some examples of non-alcoholic drinks that use bitters:

Sparkling Water with Bitters

Adding a few dashes of bitters to sparkling water can create a refreshing and flavorful drink. Try combining orange bitters with sparkling water for a citrusy twist.

Hot Tea with Bitters

Adding bitters to hot tea can add depth and complexity to the flavor profile. Try adding a few dashes of chai bitters to a cup of black tea for a warming and spicy drink.

Iced Coffee with Bitters

Bitters can also be used to add flavor to iced coffee. Try adding a few dashes of chocolate bitters to a glass of cold brew coffee for a rich and indulgent treat.

FAQs – What Drinks Have Bitters?

What are bitters in drinks?

Bitters are alcoholic extracts made from herbs, fruits, spices, and roots. They are usually used in small quantities to add a depth of flavor to cocktails and other mixed drinks. Bitters can be aromatic, providing scents of herbs and other botanicals, and can also be bitter or sour in taste, providing a counterbalance to the sweetness of the other ingredients in the drink.

Which drinks commonly have bitters?

Some classic cocktails that use bitters in their recipes are the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, and Negroni. The Manhattan is a whiskey-based drink that typically includes sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters. The Old Fashioned is a cocktail made with whiskey, sugar or simple syrup, ice, and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. The Negroni is a gin-based drink that includes sweet vermouth, Campari, and orange bitters. These are just a few examples, though; bitters can be used in a variety of cocktails and mixed drinks to add complexity to the flavor.

Are there non-alcoholic drinks that have bitters?

Yes, there are non-alcoholic drinks that include bitters in their recipes. For example, a classic recipe for a non-alcoholic cocktail called a Shirley Temple includes grenadine, lemon-lime soda, and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. Another non-alcoholic drink that may include bitters is water with a few drops of bitters added to it for digestive purposes.

Can bitters be used in cooking?

Yes, bitters can be used to flavor different dishes in cooking. For example, Angostura bitters can be added to marinades for meat or used as a seasoning for beef stews. Orange bitters can be used as a finishing touch to roasted vegetables or as a flavor addition to cookies or cakes. With a wide range of flavors available, bitters can be used in various ways to add depth and complexity to many different dishes.

Are there any health benefits to drinking bitters?

Bitters were originally developed for medicinal purposes, and many people still believe that bitters offer some health benefits. There are claims that bitters can help with indigestion, nausea, and other digestive issues. However, the scientific evidence for these purported benefits is mixed, and more research is needed to determine the true potential health benefits of bitters. It’s worth noting that bitters are usually taken in small quantities as a flavoring agent, so any potential health benefit is likely to be minor at best.

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