Liquor Laboratory

15 Best Bitters for Old Fashioned Cocktail (2023 Updated)

Best Bitter for Old Fashioned

Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Discovering the perfect cocktail bitters for an Old Fashioned is an exciting adventure. They enhance the flavor, striking a balance between the liquor and sugar, resulting in delightful classic cocktails and unique twists.

But finding the best bitters for Old Fashioned can be challenging.

Drawing from my personal experience, we’ll explore the following handpicked selection. Read on.

Top 15 Cocktail Bitters For An Old Fashioned

15. Bittermilk No.4 New Orleans Style Old Fashioned Rouge

Old Fashioned Cocktail Drink with Two Bottles of Bittermilk No.4

Average Price: approx. $17/8.5oz

Why We Like It: This is a bitters option designed to enhance your Old Fashioned with a spicy and herbal flavor.

Tinted with cochineal pigments, it creates enticing, lightly rose-colored bitters. These Old-Fashion bitters are condensed, so just a few drops will do to enhance your drink.

14. Copper & Kings Bitters

Hand Holding Bottle of Copper & Kings Bitters

Average Price: approx. $15/4oz

Why We Like It: These Old-Fashion cocktail bitters have notes of natural herbs, oils, spices, and botanical extracts.

It’s brandy-based with orange peels and honey notes – giving the cocktail a good balance of bitter taste with sweet notes.

13. 18.21 Bitters Bitters

Bottles of 18.21 Bitters Bitters

Average Price: approx. $20/4oz

Why We Like It: 18.21 Bitters are made with a twist and are known for their complex flavor.

We like the hints of nutmeg, cloves, and allspice, as well as black currants and vanilla notes.

12. Angostura Aromatic Bitters

Pouring Angostura Aromatic Bitters on a Glass

Average Price: approx. $13/4oz

Why We Like It: Angostura Bitters exudes a herbaceous and aromatic nose, with fruits, spices, and cinnamon flavor bursting through.

It enhances the taste of an Old-Fashioned cocktail, especially when combined with other ingredients.

11. Scrappy’s Bitters

Bottles of Scrappy's Bitters

Average Price: approx. $24/5oz

Why We Like It:  If you’re a cocktail punk craving an Old-Fashioned with a touch of orange peel and intense flavor, try Scrappy’s Bitters.

“The Old Fashioned is a member of the cocktail trinity (along with the Martini and Manhattan). – George Jean Nathan, American Critic.

You can try their aromatic and orange bitters – both exuding a citrus peel and orange flavor.

10. Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bourbon Barrel Aged Cocktail Bitters

Bottle of Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters on a Wooden Table

Average Price: approx. $12/100ml

Why We Like It: This cherry bitter oozes delicate cherry flavors, balancing the herbaceous bitters.

It works well with any whiskey cocktails, like Old-Fashioned. Since it’s made in used whiskey barrels, this is one of the aromatic bitters delivering an exceptional experience.

Read: Chocolate Bitters Cocktails

9. Hella Cocktail Co. Smoked Chili Bitters

Hella Cocktail Co. Smoked Chili Bitters with Glas of Old Fashioned Cocktail Drink

Average Price: approx. $16/5oz

Why We Like It: Hella Bitters’ smoked chili adds a smoky and spicy flavor to Old-Fashioned cocktails, giving a complex flavor and depth for a completely different experience.

If you want your Old-Fashioned spicy, smoky, and rich, Hella smoked chili bitters may be just what you need.

8. Bar Keep Organic Apple Bitters

Glass and Bottle of Whiskey with Bottle of Bar Keep Organic Apple Bitters

Average Price: approx. $18/8oz

Why We Like It: This gives rich flavors of caramelized apple with a warm spice. It’s versatile, working well with brandy, rum, and rye whiskey cocktails.

Aside from enhancing the flavors of your Old-Fashioned cocktail, add just a few dashes of Bar Keep bitters to your beer or favorite dessert for a unique twist.

7. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Aromatic Bitters

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Aromatic Bitters

Average Price: approx. $13/2oz

Why We Like It: If you like an Old-Fashioned that will spark a conversation, consider using Jack Rudy’s grapefruit bitters to add a bit of twist.

Jack Rudy Cocktail is one of our favorite bitters oozing with a citrus flavor and spice hints. Also, Jack Rudy bitters are refreshing alternatives to traditional bitters.

6. The Bitter Truth Bogart’s Bitters

Bottle of The Bitter Truth Bogart's Bitters with Box

Average Price: approx. $40/350ml

Why We Like It: The Bitter Truth Bogart’s Bitters has a robust flavor with dark spice, herbs, and cocoa coffee notes. However, it’s quite pricey than other cocktail bitters.

Bitter Truth uses the finest ingredients like gentian root and orange peel, responsible for their rich flavor. We suggest using the Bitter Truth – Old Time Aromatic Bitters.

5. Bittermens Boston Bittahs

Bottle of Bittermens Boston Bittahs with Slice of Lemon on a Wooden Table

Average Price: approx. $19/5oz

Why We Like It: While classic bitters are typically rich and warm, ideal for cold days, Bittermens takes the classic flavor into a drink perfect for summer.

Bittermens introduce unusual flavors, combining chamomile and citrus, giving summer aromas that linger through the Old Fashioned cocktail (or any dark rum or whiskey cocktail).

4. Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters 

Glass Of Cocktail Drink and a Bottle of Peychaud's Aromatic Cocktail Bitters on a Table

Average Price: approx. $8/5oz

Why We Like It: Peychaud’s aromatic cocktail bitters are typically used in a Vieux Carré or Sazerac cocktail. It’s more likely to have anise and licorice than other aromatic bitters.

When combined with orange zest in an Old-Fashioned cocktail, Peychaud’s bitters create a smooth and creamy finish.

3. Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6

Hand Holding Bottle of Regan's Orange Bitters No. 6

Average Price: approx. $8/5oz

Why We Like It: Regan’s Orange Bitters gives a robust yet delicate flavor with a refreshing and delicious citrus-forward profile.

It has the perfect balance of bitter orange extracts and winter spices. The blend of flavors creates a caramel-like hint with bitter and sour flavors – perfect for aged rum or gin drinks.

2. Crude Smoked & Salt

Bottle of Crude Smoked & Salt on a Wooden Table

Average Price: approx. $19/4oz (MSRP)

Why We Like It: If you like the smoked Old-Fashioned recipe, use Crude Smoked & Salt bitters. Crude bitters are strong, so it elevates the cocktail’s flavor.

The aroma of hardwood smoke lingers, with hints of salt and spice, keeping the flavor of Old-Fashioned or any classic cocktail recipes interesting.

1. Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Cocktail Bitters 

Bottle of Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate Cocktail Bitters and a Glass of Eggnog Drink

Average Price: approx. $10/5oz

Why We Like It: The most notable flavor from the Fee Brothers bitters brand is the Aztec chocolate flavor, which has all the characteristics of cocoa without the sweet taste.

“Elevating Old Fashioned artistry, bitters crowned the king of flavor.” – Liquor Laboratory

Aztec chocolate bitters are the perfect addition to any classic whiskey cocktails. The cocoa flavors are the highlight of this drink while retaining the character of traditional bitters [1].

**Average prices are based on Drizly online. Prices may vary depending on the store.

FAQs 

Where do you buy the best bitters for Old Fashioned?

You can buy the best bitters for Old-Fashioned online, in grocery stores, or supermarkets. You can find the bitters in the liquor section at most physical stores.

Are there any non-alcoholic bitters that can be used in an Old Fashioned?

Yes, there are non-alcoholic bitters you use in an Old-Fashioned cocktail, like glycerin-based bitters from the following brands: Fee Brothers, Dram Apothecary, and Arkay.

In Summary 

Bitters are similar to liqueurs and spirits – with various flavors. Their composition’s herbaceous and simple nature makes them an ideal choice for Old-Fashioned [2].

The Fee Brothers Aztec Chocolate is our favorite for its unique cocoa notes and perfect balance. But, depending on your preference, you can opt for other options like Crude, Bogart’s, Hella, and Jack Rudy aromatic bitters if you want an unusual twist.

References:

  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/bitters
  2. https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/drinks/a12026118/old-fashioned-vs-manhattan-cocktails/
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