Best bitters

October 2, 2015 12:00 PM

From classic cocktails to modern concoctions, bitters are making their way into your glass and enhancing the flavors of mixed drinks around the world.  Walk into any notable bar today and you’ll likely find an array of small, dark glass bottles being picked up and dashed into the mixing tin by your bartender. Some of the most classic bitters became commercially available in the early to mid 1800s. Today, with the growing interest in both classic and modern cocktails, new bitter flavors continue to emerge including the likes of black walnut, grapefruit, celery and even habanero shrub bitters. Each drop of these bitters can elevate a cocktail by adding depth unlike any other ingredient.

Bitters typically come in two types: Potable and non-potable. Non-potable bitters are usually lower in sugar, higher to over proof in alcohol content, packaged in smaller bottles and are intended to be dashed into cocktails in smaller quantities.

Potable bitters often refer to bitter liqueurs such as Campari, Jagermeister, Benedictine, etc., which generally are higher in sugar and sometimes lower in alcohol making them therefore considered more potable.


Angostura is the most classic and commonly used bitters in the cocktail world; Angostura is most famous for its place in the Old-Fashioned and Manhattan cocktails. A proprietary recipe (only five people in the world have access to it), Angostura is a blend of herbs, roots, botanicals and bitter barks.


Invented in 1860, Campari is made from the infusion of herbs and fruit including chinotto oranges and bitter cascarilla bark, Campari is a classic Italian aperitif liqueur intended to stimulate the appetite before a meal. Try Campari in one of its most famous applications, the popular Italian Negroni Cocktail.

Bittermans Habanero Shrub

Bittermans was founded in San Francisco in 2007 and has an array of new style flavors intended for the modern bartender. The Hellfire Habanero Shrub has the unique ability to introduce consistent heat into cocktails such as the margarita.

About the Author

Hillary Choo is an award-winning mixologist, brand ambassador and former bartender. Hillary has received multiple recognitions, most recently Top Ten Mixologists in Miami by The Miami New Times in 2013 and Bartender of the Year Miami by Eater. Hillary is Portfolio Ambassador Miami for Bacardi USA. Follow Instagram at HillaryChoo. @ohillaryo