Bitters are tiny bottles of intense flavor used in cocktails and other drinks. Many bitters are infused with orange peel, cascarilla, cassia bark, and gentian root.
It’s typical for bitters to contain botanicals, roots, herbs, and spices. Bitters have been used since the 1800s. Though they started off as a medicinal concoction, they are now notoriously used in cocktails.
You can find bitters in the liquor section of most grocery stores. However, not all grocery stores carry bitters. If your store doesn’t carry them, you can try a liquor store or an ethnic market.
Some popular bitters brands include Angostura, Peychaud’s, Orange, and Fee Brothers. There are also several artisanal bitters makers, such as The Bitter Truth, that you can purchase from online retailers or specialty stores.
Specialty stores can provide a wealth of knowledge if you’re looking to buy bitters from a local maker. Even if the bitter is not made local to your region, employees at these specialty stores have a lot of knowledge about cocktails and bitters in general. They can explain more about the bitters crafting process and help you make the most out of your ingredients so you wind up with the perfect cocktail.
Here are the grocery stores with the best selection of bitters:
- Whole Foods
- Central Market
You should be able to find bitters in the liquor section of most of these stores. There is a chance that the particular brand and flavor you are looking for may not be available. Don’t worry. You have other options such as your nearby liquor store, ethnic market, or even online.
Buying bitters online is an excellent option because you have more brands, sizes, and flavors to choose from. Here are five of the best online retailers for bitters.
Amazon is the number one place to buy bitters online. You can find a wide variety of brands and flavors on Amazon. You can also purchase other bar supplies, such as cocktail shakers and glasses.
Simply typing in “bitters” in the Amazon search field yields more than 500 results. This can be overwhelming, so we recommend narrowing your search by selecting a particular brand or flavor.
Aside from being able to compare prices, Amazon also offers bitter sampler kits so you can try different flavors before spending more on a full bottle.
WebstaurantStore is another online retailer that sells bitters. They offer customers a wide range of brands, including Fee Brothers, Angostura, and The Bitter Truth. The awesome thing about WebstaurantStore is that they provide one-day shipping, so you’ll have your bitters in no time.
If you own or run a restaurant or bar, you might be interested in purchasing bitters in bulk. WebstaurantStore offers discounts for orders over $500. They make the process of getting all the supplies you need in bulk straightforward.
KegWorks is another great vendor for purchasing bitters online. They also carry many brands, including Fee Brothers, Regan’s, Angostura, The Bitter Truth, and others. KegWorks also has a great selection of bar supplies, such as shakers and glasses.
KegWorks offers close to 150 different options for cocktail bitters. So rest assured that they will have the brand and or flavor you are looking for.
Drizly is your modern-day Instacart but for alcohol. They have more than 200 options for bitters from various brands. What’s great about Drizly is that you can order your bitters and have them delivered to your door in under an hour.
They also have a great loyalty program that gives you rewards for every purchase. So, if you’re looking to try different bitters brands, Drizly is an excellent option.
The Local Marketplace Palate is an online market for small-batch, artisanal products. They don’t have a large selection of bitters, but if you favor the Woodster brand, they are your best option.
They do, however, have a wide range of other great products from various artisans. So, if you’re looking to buy unique and hard-to-find products, Palate is a great option.
If you can’t find bitters, don’t panic. Some alternatives can still get the job done.
Amaro is a great alternative for bitters. Amaro is an Italian digestif made from herbs, spices, and flowers.
There are many varieties of Amaros, such as Averna, Campari, and Fernet Branca.
Since Amaro has a very similar flavor profile to many bitters, You can substitute amaro with bitters by adding a teaspoon or two to your cocktail.
Another alternative to bitters is vinegar. Apple cider vinegar, in particular, has a great flavor that can be used in cocktails.
Vinegar is only a good option if you have time, as you will need to create the fruit or herb mixture, combine it with vinegar, and let it sit for up to 3 weeks. Using the mixture too early will lead to a cocktail lacking in flavor, or even worse, one that tastes only of vinegar.
After the mixture sits, add it to your cocktails in place of bitters.
If you’re looking to add a little bit of sourness to your cocktail, vinegar is a great option. If you plan on using vinegar, make sure you take the time needed for this component to ferment.
Yes, you can use Sriracha in cocktails! It might sound crazy, but it works great as a substitute for bitters.
Sriracha has a great flavor that can be used in cocktails with sweet and savory flavors. Add sriracha to your cocktail by adding a few drops to the drink or by rimming the glass with it.
Sriracha specifically works in cocktails with a spicy or Asian flair.
So, if you can’t find bitters or are looking for a different flavor profile, try one of these alternatives to holding you over until you can get precisely what you are looking for.