6 Best Possible Substitutes For Bitters: Cocktail Guide (2023)

Last Updated on August 22, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Are you looking for the best substitute for bitters?

Drawing from our extensive experience in the world of mixology, we’ve compiled a list of excellent options that will add depth and complexity to your libations.

Get ready to discover exciting alternatives that will elevate your cocktails to a whole new level of flavor and excitement. Let’s dive in.

Top 6 Possible Substitutes For Bitters 

6. Citrus Peels

Person Peeling Orange

Citrus peels impart a bright and tangy profile, like bitters, adding a refreshing twist to any cocktail. Its bright flavors and aromas complement many spirits, like tequila, vodka, and rum. 

We like the versatility of the citrus peel, which can elevate cocktails to new levels of citrus-infused perfection.

5. Mix of Spices

Bottles of Spices

The mix of spices can create a blend of flavors for a unique drinking experience. You can use mixed spices (like cardamon and cinnamon) to substitute bitters in cocktails. 

“Ignite your creativity behind the bar with a bitters substitute that shakes up the cocktail game.” – Liquor Laboratory

The versatility of this spice blend transforms libations into the fusion of tastes, opening up a world of limitless possibilities when it comes to cocktail making. 

4. Muddle Fruits

Muddling Orange Peel with Sugar on a Glass

Instead of using bitters, why not use the natural sweetness and vibrant flavors of muddle fruits in your cocktail? 

With each muddled fruit, whether juicy berries, tangy citrus, or succulent tropical delights, your libations come alive with a blend of tastes. 

3. Your Own Quickly-Infused Bitter

Jar of Homemade Bitters

If you can’t have the store-bought bitters, try making your own bitters. Though creating your own bitters is a time-consuming task, it’s an excellent ingredient to finish your cocktail creation.

You may want to try our recipe: 

Grind a selection of whole spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, gentian, cloves, allspice, and/or coriander, and combine them with 1-2 tablespoons of vodka, Everclear, or rum. 

Let the mixture steep for 5-10 minutes before straining. In no time, you’ll have a flavorful homemade infusion ready to enhance your cocktails. 

2. Other Liqueur Types

Bottle of Absinthe

Besides bitters, you can use other types of liqueur, depending on the flavor you want to achieve. The best options include Absinthe [1], Amaro, or Campari. 

Actually, we use ¼ teaspoon of the liqueurs mentioned to replace Angostura bitters in some cocktails, like Whiskey Sour, Old Fashioned, Gin Sling, and Pegu Club. 

1. Other Bitters Types

Hand Holding Peychaud's Aromatic Bitters

If one type of bitters (like Angostura aromatic bitters) is unavailable, the best alternative you can use is another type of bitters (make sense, right?). 

We usually use Angostura bitters, but in case of emergency (LOL), we grab Peychaud’s or orange bitters as an alternative.   

“He took a large tablet of beet sugar (an equivalent quantity of ordinary lump sugar does equally well), soaked it in Angostura Bitters, and then rolled it in Cayenne pepper. This he put into a large glass which he filled up with champagne. The excellences of this drink defy description.” – Evelyn Waugh, Writer

But while they’re all types of bitters [2], their flavor profiles may vary. So always consider the taste profile you want before choosing the type of bitter to use. 

Why There Isn’t Really A Substitute For Bitters 

There isn’t a real substitute for bitters because it has a distinct flavor profile derived from a carefully crafted blend of herbs, roots, and botanicals. 

These components create a complexity that enhances cocktails in ways other ingredients cannot replicate, making it challenging to find a true substitute. 

While certain alternatives like citrus peel, spice mixes, or muddled fruits can add their own taste dimensions, they do not offer the same depth and intricacy that bitters bring to a drink.

Bitters’ ability to balance flavors, provide a hint of bitterness, and contribute aromatic complexity remains unparalleled, making them a truly indispensable component in cocktail creation.


Can you use triple sec instead of orange bitters?

No, you can’t use triple sec instead of orange bitters. While they share a common flavor profile of orange, they serve different purposes in cocktails. 

Orange bitters add complexity, depth, and a subtle bitter note, while triple sec provides some orange flavors. It lacks the nuanced bitterness and aromatic qualities of orange bitters. 

Can you substitute anything for bitters in an Old Fashioned?

No, you can’t substitute anything for bitters in an Old Fashioned. While bitters are a key ingredient in an Old Fashioned, it’s hard to find a direct substitute replicating their unique flavor profile. 

Bitters contribute complexity, balance, and a hint of bitterness to the cocktail, which is difficult to replicate with a single ingredient.

Why do you add bitters to a cocktail?

Bitters are added to cocktails to enhance and balance the overall flavor profile. Mainly, bitters act as a flavor enhancer, adding complexity, balance, and blend of flavors.  

Are bitters necessary?

Bitters are necessary for many classic and contemporary recipes, like Old Fashioned, Trinidad Sour, Port of Spain, Tiki Max, Pink Gin, Manhattan Island, and Brooklyn’s Finest. 

While bitters are not absolutely necessary in every cocktail, they play a crucial role in enhancing a drink’s flavor, complexity, and balance. We’ve got a list of the best bitters for Manhattan here

Can you make an Old Fashioned without bitters?

Yes, you can make an Old Fashioned without adding bitters. However, the absence of bitters will alter the overall flavor profile of the cocktail. 

There may be a slight difference in taste compared to the Old Fashioned with the bitters. 

What’s a non-alcoholic substitute for Angostura bitters?

Non-alcoholic substitutes for Angostura bitters include aromatic spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, cardamom, and ginger. 

In Conclusion 

Based on research, you still have options to use as alternatives for bitters in your cocktail drink. Like us, you can use spice mixes, muddled fruits, citrus peels, and some liqueur types.  

The closest thing you can use is other types of bitters. Although the flavor profile varies, it can still work wonders on cocktails. 

But remember – while there are alternatives and potential substitutes for bitters in cocktails, the unique flavor, depth, and complexity that bitters bring to the table make them a challenging ingredient to replace entirely.




Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here.

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