The 5 Best Bitters for Whiskey Cocktails

Bring out Flavors in Whiskey Cocktails With Bitters

Classic Old-Fashioned Cocktail Recipe
It's simple, yes, but the classic Old-Fashioned cocktail is one of the best ways to enjoy a great whiskey. DAJ/Getty Images

Cocktail bitters can make the difference between an average cocktail and a great one. When it comes to whiskey, they are essential for the modern bar because they're a key ingredient in many of the best drinks.

From the Old-fashioned to the Manhattan, bitters play a vital role in the world of whiskey. While just a decade or so ago Angostura Aromatic Bitters was king of the bitters scene, all of that has changed. We now have a great variety of bitters to choose from. A few of those...MORE particularly useful for your favorite whiskey cocktails.

  • 01 of 05
    Angostura Aromatic Bitters and Orange Bitters
    Photo: Angostura

    Essentially, it's the king of bitters due to its longevity. Angostura would have been the only brand of bitters stocked in most bars 20 years ago.  This bottle is instantly recognizable thanks to its over-sized label and it remains indispensable for any well-stocked bar.

    Essential in a Manhattan cocktail as well as the Old-fashioned, these bitters have a pronounced tamarind and cinnamon flavor. If you come across any cocktail recipe that simply says 'bitters' it's very likely that...MORE it was written with Angostura Aromatic Bitters in mind.

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    Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6 for Cocktails
    Photo: S&C Design Studios

    Created by cocktail guru and author Gary 'Gaz' Regan, these orange bitters have a pronounced cardamom undertone. While there are many orange bitters available on the market today, Regans' are among the favorites for the pros.

    These bitters work well in just about any cocktail, they are especially effective when accenting great whiskey drinks. Add a dash or two to classics like the Liberal Cocktail or Fancy Whiskey and taste the magic for yourself.​

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    Peychaud's Aromatic Cocktail Bitters
    Graeme Maclean/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Essential for making a Sazerac cocktail, Peychaud's offers up light Christmas spice notes, including clove and nutmeg. The 18th-century recipe even includes a hint of cherry, though as with most bitters formulae, the secret is one that is well-kept.

    Not only is Peychaud's a fantastic addition to classic drinks, you'll also want to use them to spice up modern creations. A perfect example is the American whiskey and sake recipe known as the Manhattan Love Story. Here, the bitters play...MORE well against the spice of a ginger liqueur and the result is phenomenal.

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    The Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters
    Photo Courtesy: The Bitter Truth

    The Bitter Truth is one of the newer bitters producers. They have quickly made a splash -- or is it a dash -- on the bar scene. They offer many great flavored bitters, yet grapefruit is one of the most notable.

    Grapefruit and hops combine to make this a heady, complex bitters. Try using it in drinks containing rye whiskey. A dash or two can add new life to the Algonquin, a classic rye and pineapple recipe. It also does wonders in the slightly fruity Millionaire.

    If a whiskey cocktail has a hint of...MORE bright fruits, try The Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters. You'll be surprised at the results.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05
    Scrappy's Bitters Chocolate
    Scrappy's Bitters

    Made with organic cacao nibs, Scrappy's Chocolate Bitters can add a complex dimension to many cocktails.

    A Manhattan cocktail takes on a completely different flavor profile with these bitters. You will also find that an Old Fashioned made with a nice sweet bourbon like Four Roses is heavenly.

    Look for cocktails containing whiskey and Green Chartreuse to feature this in as well.

    Edited by Colleen Graham