5 Amazing Cocktails That Use Aromatic Bitters

old fashioned cocktail alternatives that use bitters

I love Old Fashioned cocktails (made with bourbon, simple syrup, vermouth, and bitters). I used to go through bottles of bourbon and vermouth making Old Fashioneds and other cocktails before I used even a quarter bottle of bitters. Old Fashioned cocktails just don’t require many bitters.

The best bitters

However, as an avid food and drink enthusiast,  I want to use all ingredients to their full potential. I try not to limit an ingredient to one drink or dish, so I found these other cocktails that use bitters. I’ve purposely included ones that aren’t composed of anything fancy; things you might already have in your kitchen or liquor cabinet.

The Metropolitan

 Difficulty: EASY

1.5oz brandy

0.5 oz simple syrup

1 oz vermouth 

2 dash of bitters

Optional: lemon twist

  1. Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Cover the shaker and shake well for about 10 seconds. The outside of the shaker should feel chilled
  3. Strain into a lowball glass with ice
  4. Optional: garnish with a lemon twist 

Yes, it’s pretty much an Old Fashioned but replacing the brandy with bourbon. However, you’d be surprised how different it tastes from an Old Fashioned. Also, we’re starting off easy!

high ball with bitters

Perfect Storm

2 ounces spiced rum

1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed

2 dashes of Angostura bitters

Ginger beer to finish

Optional: lime wedge

  1. Add the rum, bitters, and lime juice to a highball glass with ice and stir together
  2. Fill the rest of the glass with ginger beer
  3. Garnish with your lime wedge!

This is an adaptation of its more popular relative: The Dark and Stormy. I like it because the bitters give it a subtle, as I describe, licorice taste. Perhaps people who think a normal Dark and Stormy is too sweet would like this one. 

Gin Sling

Difficulty: MEDIUM

1.5 oz gin

1 oz sweet vermouth

.75 oz lemon juice

.75  oz simple syrup

3 dash bitters

Soda water to finish

Optional: lemon spiral 

  1. Pour everything EXCEPT the soda water into a shaker with ice 
  2. Cover the shaker and shake well for about 10 seconds. The outside of the shaker should feel chilled
  3. Strain into a highball glass with ice
  4. Fill the rest of the glass with soda water
  5. Garnish with your lemon spiral! 

This cocktail takes my second favorite drink, a gin, and tonic, and adds a little more flavor depth to it. It’s one of my favorite outdoor summer drinks. 

Kentucky Buck

Difficulty: HARD

1 medium strawberry

2 oz whiskey (preferably bourbon)

.75oz lemon juice

.25 oz syrup

2 dash bitters

Finish with ginger beer 

  1. Muddle the strawberry in the shaker. If you don’t have a muddle, I’ve used a spatula. It doesn’t work as well, but it works!
  2. Pour the whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup, and bitters into the shaker
  3. Cover the shaker and shake well for about 10 seconds. The outside of the shaker should feel chilled
  4. Strain into a highball glass with ice
  5. Fill the rest of the glass with ginger beer

I would describe this drink as a Moscow Mule with a hint of strawberry. (Tip: I don’t always have the best luck finding sweet strawberries so I often use more than one. But if you don’t love the taste of strawberries then no need to add them) 

Pisco Sour

2 oz pisco

1 oz lime juice

3/4 oz simple syrup 

1 fresh egg white

3 dash bitters

  1. Pour the pisco, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white into a shaker without ice
  2. Seal the shaker and shake well until the egg white is foamy, almost like soap suds
  3. Add ice to the shaker and shake well for about 10 seconds. The outside of the shaker should feel chilly
  4. Strain into a lowball glass
  5. Dash the bitters on top of the foam

To make it vegan or if you don’t have an egg on hand, use approx 4 tablespoons of whipped aquafaba, chickpea water (also just a really fun word to say). 

If you just want more simple cocktail recipes, check out these cocktail recipes with 3 ingredients or less. 

Victor Lau
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