The Old Fashioned is one of the most popular cocktails. And for a good reason. It’s one of the best-tasting cocktails worldwide.
The recipe for the Old Fashioned is made with three ingredients, including whiskey, bitters, and sugar.
It’s served in a glass over ice and garnished with orange peel or cherry. It’s a drink with a sweet, bitter, and refreshing flavor that will become your favorite once you try it.
Bitters play a key part in the Old Fashioned recipe; you can’t enjoy the full flavor of this cocktail without adding bitters. They’re used to counteract the sweetness from the sugar and create a cocktail with a more complex flavor.
Bitters are alcohol–based blends of aromatics, spices, botanicals, and fruits used to flavor cocktails. One or two drops of bitters can alter your cocktail’s flavor, making it more balanced and richer.
Today, you can enhance the flavor of your cocktails with different bitters; however, if you don’t know which one to use for your Old Fashioned, don’t worry.
Here’s a list of some of the best bitters for Old Fashioned.
1. Angostura Aromatic Bitters
Angostura Aromatic Bitters are one of the most known brands of bitters. They get their name from a city in Venezuela, Angostura, which was first made in 1824.
Angostura bitters are most known for their use in the whiskey cocktails like Old Fashioned and Manhattan, but they are also used in other cocktails.
Old Fashioned and Angostura bitters are a classic match with a tamarind and cinnamon flavor and taste great.
Therefore, they are my first choice when preparing an Old Fashioned cocktail. You will recognize the bottles of Angostura bitters in the store by their oversized labels.
2. Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters
Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters are another classic bitters brand with a fruitier, sweeter, and lighter flavor than most other bitters.
These bitters are the essential ingredient in the Sazerac cocktail. But they are also used in other cocktails and drinks.
Peychaud’s bitters have a strong anise flavor with hints of nutmeg and cloves. They also have a lower ABV than the other bitters. If you like the anise flavor, Peychaud’s bitters are the right one for your cocktail.
3. Fee Brothers Cocktail Bitters
Fee Brothers Cocktail Bitters have been produced since the 1950s in Rochester, New York. They are versatile bitters that are used in many different cocktails.
Fee Brothers bitters come in various flavors like black walnut, mint, grapefruit, plum, peach, celery, cardamom, cherry, cranberries, orange, lime, lemon, Aztec chocolate, and others.
You only have to choose the flavor you like the most and use it to make your Old Fashioned cocktail. One of the Fee Brothers bitters I usually use in Old Fashioned is Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters.
But you can experiment with black walnut or Aztec chocolate bitters to taste some new flavors.
Old Fashion Aromatic Bitters have an angostura bark, cinnamon, allspice, orange, and other flavors that will make your Old Fashioned cocktail taste great.
4. Regan’s Orange Bitters No.6
Regan’s Orange Bitters No.6 can also be used for Old Fashioned because it has an orange flavor that pairs well with the whiskey taste.
But these bitters also blend well with brandy, rum, gin, and vodka.
They are versatile bitters with a combination of orange peel, coriander, cardamom, caraway, cloves, cinnamon, and other herbs.
Regan’s orange bitters are a great addition to various cocktails like Old Fashioned, Manhattan, and Sazerac to enhance their flavor and give an orange hint.
5. Scrappy’s Bitters
Scrappy’s Bitters are handcrafted bitters made with organic spices and herbs. They are used in various cocktails and don’t contain artificial flavors, dyes, extracts, or chemicals.
You can use some of their bitters like cardamom, orange, lavender, lime, grapefruit, celery, chocolate, and others to give some flavor to your cocktails.
Scrappy’s bitters have an intense flavor that will lift your cocktail to a higher level. If you need bitters for Old Fashioned, you can use the one with cardamom because it blends well with the orange flavor from the orange peel.
Scrappy’s Chocolate bitters are also a good choice if you want your Old Fashioned to have a chocolate flavor with hints of cardamom, vanilla, walnut, and cherry.
Also check: 25 Best Whiskey for Old Fashioned
6. The Bitter Truth Bogart’s Bitters
The Bitter Truth Bogart’s Bitters are another classic brand of bitters you can use in any cocktail that calls for bitters. Some of the known ingredients in these flavorful bitters are cassia, bitter orange peel, and cardamom.
They are a great mix of chocolate, coffee, cherries, and dark spice flavors and give a unique and rich taste to the cocktails.
The Bitter Truth Bitters came in various flavors and are originally sold in big 375 ml brown glass bottles known as lady’s leg.
If you want to use these bitters in your Old Fashioned, you can try The Bitter Truth Old Time Aromatic Bitters.
They have cinnamon, cloves, anise, and cardamom flavor, and just a few dashes will make an Old Fashioned taste like a classic one.
7. Bittercube Bitters
Bittercube Bitters are made in Milwaukee by hand with natural ingredients and without added oils or extracts.
They come in various flavors like orange, root beer, black strap, cherry bark vanilla, chipotle cacao, and others. Bittercube trinity bitters combine orange, cherry bark, vanilla, and bolivar bitters.
It has floral and citrus aromas and complex flavors of vanilla, oak, and dried fruits and is a good addition to Old Fashioned.
You can also use Bittercube Orange Bitters with cardamom and citrus flavor to enhance the taste of the Old Fashioned.
But if you like the vanilla taste more, add a few dashes of the cherry bark vanilla bitters. That way, you will get an Old Fashioned with mixed vanilla, star anise, fennel, and other flavors.
8. The Bitter End Bitters
The Bitter End Bitters are bitters with distinctive aromas and intense, complex flavors. They are made in New Mexico by hand with natural ingredients like spices, herbs, fruits, chilies, and other elements.
But it is also important to know that these bitters don’t contain preservatives, extracts, and artificial flavorings.
You can try some new flavors because The bitter end bitters are bringing flavors from all around the world to enhance the taste of your cocktails.
Some variations are Jamaican jerk, Mexican mole, Chesapeake bay, Thai, Moroccan, Memphis barbeque, Togarashi, and others.
If you are open to new flavors and want to give a spicy hint to your Old Fashioned, choose some of these brand of bitters.
9. Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Aromatic Bitters
Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Aromatic Bitters are one of the best bitters you can use to give a great flavor to Old Fashioned cocktails.
They are made in small batches from a base of burnt cane sugar syrup. Therefore, they have a well-balanced sweet-bitter flavor with citrus and winter spices notes.
Jack Rudy aromatic bitters are versatile bitters that you can use in various cocktails. Old Fashioned and Manhattan are just two classic cocktails that will get a unique taste when you add just a dash of Jack Rudy aromatic bitters.
10. Hella Cocktail Co.Smoked Chili Bitters
Hella Cocktail Bitters are well-balanced bitters with many different and unique flavors. You can use eucalyptus, citrus, ginger, or smoked chili bitters, depending on your taste.
My favorite from Hella bitters I usually use for Old Fashioned cocktails is Hella Smoked Chili Bitters.
They are made with neutral grain alcohol, dried orange peel, cassia,pasilia de Oaxaca, allspice, cardamom, black peppercorns, coriander, and angelica root.
Therefore, if you want an Old Fashioned cocktail with a rich, spicy, smoky flavor, Hella Smoked Chili Bitters are the one for you.
11. Bittermens Boston Bittahs
Bitters have a deep, warm and rich flavor, but that’s not the case with Bittermens Boston Bittahs. These bitters have a lighter, citrus, and camomile flavor that will give a new twist to the Old Fashioned cocktail.
Another option for Old Fashioned is Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters.
They have rich cinnamon, cacao, and spices flavor and pair well with whiskey, tequila, and dark rum. Bittermens elemakule tiki bitters have flavors of cinnamon, ginger, allspice, citrus peel, and cardamom.
Use rum instead of whiskey in Old Fashioned, and you can add them to give a tropical taste to your cocktail. There are various options; choose the one you like that will make your cocktail taste great.
12. Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters
Woodford Reserve Spiced Cherry Bitters are a great option if you like cherry flavor in your Old Fashioned.
These bitters are aged in bourbon oak barrels and pair great with dark spirits.
To get a wonderful spiced cherry flavor, you can add a few drops of Woodford reserve spiced cherry bitters to your Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or any other whisky cocktail.
What Are Traditional Bitters?
Angostura bitters are the oldest brand of bitters used to flavor beverages. They are made with gentian root, spices, and herbs and are one of the main ingredients in various cocktails.
Different bitters are also made with neutral alcohol infused with spices, fruits, herbs, tree bark, and roots. Some ingredients usually used in the bitters are cassia bark, gentian root, orange peel, cinchona bark, and cascarilla.
Does an Old Fashioned Need Bitters?
Old Fashioned is a classic drink made with rye whiskey, but bourbon was later used. Another important ingredient is the bitters used to counteract the sweetness from the sugar and create a cocktail with a more complex flavor.
They are added to the cocktails to balance the sweet and sour flavors and bring out the real taste of the drink.
So, yes, Old Fashioned need bitters. And if you don’t know which brand of bitters to choose, read the article and pick your favorite.
What’s the Purpose of Bitters in an Old Fashioned?
Bitters are used in many different cocktails and drinks, and Old Fashioned is no exception.
The best Old Fashioned cocktails mix just a few ingredients but have a great taste because all the flavors are well balanced and compliment each other.
Bitters are an essential ingredient used to balance the sweet flavor from the sugar, mellow the alcohol taste, and round up the cocktail’s flavor.
If you don’t add bitters in the Old Fashioned, you will only have a sweet cocktail and feel the spirit’s taste.
What Bitters to Use in an Old Fashioned?
Angostura bitters are one of the most popular bitters, usually used in Old Fashioned.
Nowadays, we have available a variety of bitters with many different and unusual flavors that will bring your Old Fashioned cocktail to a new level.
You can use bitters from Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters, Fee Brothers Cocktail Bitters, Regan’s Orange Bitters No.6, Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Aromatic Bitters, or some other brand of bitters mentioned above.
It all depends on your taste and preferences.
Can You Make Old Fashioned Without Bitters?
You can make an Old Fashioned without bitters, but the flavor you will get will not be the same as with added two-three dashes of bitters.
Instead of bitters, you can use muddled orange slice, muddled maraschino cherries, Amaro and Campari liqueurs, or absinthe.
They all have characteristic flavors that will make your Old Fashioned to taste different from the classic one.
Old Fashioned is my favorite cocktail, and I always experiment with the bitters to create other varieties that will have different flavors.
My customers want to try them because they want to drink something new with an unusual taste. But that doesn’t mean I don’t respect the classic Old Fashioned; I follow the new time and the opportunities open to experimenting.
I hope that this article helped you find some new bitters and flavors that will satisfy your senses and become your favorite brand of bitters.
If you try some of the bitters suggested, I will be glad to read about your opinion. Leave your comment below, and let’s chat about cocktails.