Liquor Laboratory

10 Best Orange Bitters Substitutes: Beginner’s Guide (2023)

Orange Bitters Substitute

Last Updated on December 16, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Picture this: you’re in your kitchen, concocting shots like a mad scientist, determined to find the ultimate substitute for orange bitters because you suddenly forgot to buy the magic ingredient. 

Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. Through trial and error, we’ve unlocked the secret to creating mind-blowing shots that rival the flavors of traditional orange bitters

Get ready for a taste adventure that will ignite your senses and leave you craving more as we explore the quest for the ultimate orange bitters substitute.

Top 10 Substitutes For Orange Bitters 

10. Orange Soda

Orange Soda Garnished with Slice of Orange

Basically, orange soda has an orange flavor, although artificial, which can be used as an alternative to orange bitters. But there may be better options, especially in cocktails. 

“Unleash new flavors with a surprising twist, the orange bitters substitute.” – Liquor Laboratory

Yes, it can provide sweet and artificial orange flavor, but it lacks the key characteristics that orange bitters bring to a drink. Fairly, it can still create a refreshing twist to cocktails. 

9. Orange Marmalade

Two Jars of Orange Marmalade

Since an orange marmalade is a sweet and tangy fruit preserve made from oranges, it can provide a citrusy flavor to cocktails – making it a good substitute for orange bitters. 

But orange marmalade is naturally sweet, so you need to reduce the amount of other sweet ingredients in the cocktail or adjust the overall sweetness to avoid an overly sugary taste. 

8. Citrus Bitters

Jars of Citrus Bitters

Citrus bitters can be a suitable substitute for orange bitters, especially if you want a citrusy flavor profile.

Like orange bitters, citrus bitters contain bittering agents, herbs, and spices that contribute complexity and balance to cocktails. 

But, the specific combination of botanicals may differ between orange and citrus bitters, leading to slight variations in taste.

7. Orange Extract

Homemade Orange Extract on a Glass Bowl

Orange extract is a concentrated liquid made from the essential oils of oranges. You can find orange extracts in most grocery stores – a convenient substitute for orange bitters.

Add a few SPLASH of orange extract to your cocktail to achieve a concentrated orange flavor. 

6. Orange Zest

Orange Zest on a Wooden Board

Fresh orange zest or orange peel is one of the simplest substitutes for orange bitters. You can simply twist or muddle the zest to release the extracts and flavors into your cocktail. 

We usually use this alternative as this provides a fresh and vibrant citrus essence to our favorite cocktails like Old Fashioned and many more. 

5.  Orange Syrup

Bottle of Orange Syrup and an Orange Fruit

The orange syrup is a sweet, concentrated liquid made from oranges and sugar. It primarily adds sweetness and a pronounced orange flavor to cocktails but lacks orange bitters’ bitter and aromatic qualities. 

So, you should adjust the amount if you don’t want a sweeter and less complex taste compared to orange bitters. 

4. Orange Juice

Pouring Orange Juice on a Glass

We use orange juice as a substitute for orange bitters in certain cocktail recipes, like Rob Roy, Old-Fashioned, etc., But know that the two ingredients have different properties and flavors.

Despite this, orange juice imparts the orange profile a cocktail requires, although it can’t provide the complexity orange bitters can.  

3. Triple Sec

Hand Holding DeKuyper Triple Sec

We suggest using Triple Sec instead of orange bitters, particularly those cocktails that require a sweet orange flavor, like Mimosa, Tequila Sunrise, and Screwdriver. 

“If I could only choose one bottle, and it needs to be my workhorse for making a wide variety of cocktails, I am probably reaching for a triple sec.” – Deke Dunne, Head Bartender at Allegory Bar (Washington, DC)

Triple sec has a pronounced sweet orange flavor. It adds a distinct and vibrant citrus note to cocktails. 

Read: Triple Sec vs Simple Syrup For Cocktails

2. Orange Liqueur

Bottles of Orange Liqueur

Another option is to use orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier, as a substitute for orange bitters. 

We like these liqueurs [1] for their pronounced orange flavor and a touch of sweetness. Mind you – adjust the amount to your taste, as they can be stronger and sweeter than bitters. 

1. Citrus Peel

Peeled Orange on a Table

Our favorite alternative to orange bitters is the citrus peel. Using citrus peel is a simple and effective way to add a citrusy and aromatic element to cocktails. 

Like orange bitters, the citrus peel contains aromatic compounds contributing depth and complexity to cocktails. 

The oils released from the peel can provide pleasant aromas and enhance the overall cocktail experience. 

FAQs 

What is a non-alcoholic substitute for orange bitters?

The non-alcoholic substitute for orange bitters includes orange extract, orange peel/zest, orange syrup, and alcohol-free [2] citrus bitters like Dram Apothecary. 

Are orange bitters the same as regular bitters?

No, orange bitters are not the same as regular bitters. While orange bitters and regular bitters share some common characteristics, such as their role in adding complexity and depth to drinks, they differ in their specific flavor profiles and the primary ingredients used in their production. 

Final Say 

Based on our ultimate taste tests and trial and error concoctions, while these substitutes can provide similar flavor profiles, they may not replicate the exact taste of orange bitters. 

So, we recommend adjusting the quantity of the orange bitters substitute based on personal preference and the specific cocktail you’re making.

If you want the closest flavor profile orange bitters provide, try using a citrus peel or orange liqueur. But if you opt for a touch of sweetness, use orange juice or orange soda. 

References:

  1. https://www.britannica.com/topic/liqueur 
  2. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/cosmetics-labeling-claims/alcohol-free 

 

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