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Home » Do Bitters Have Alcohol? (Complete Guide)

Do Bitters Have Alcohol? (Complete Guide)

    Do Bitters Have Alcohol? (Complete Guide)

    Bitters are a key component in a wide variety of cocktail recipes; nevertheless, little is known about their alcohol content.

    Do bitters include any kind of alcohol? Bitters, contrary to the widespread notion, are created from alcohol and may have an alcohol by volume (ABV) range of up to 35%–45%. However, due to the fact that they are only added in very trace amounts (drops or dashes), they do not contribute to the overall ABV of any beverage. This is the primary reason why they are often promoted as non-alcoholic beverages.

    The Bitter Truth About

    Bitters are the element that sets apart a decent cocktail recipe from a great one. In fact, many people are under the impression that a beverage can only be referred to be a cocktail if it contains at least a dash of bitters.

    Bitters are so popular in mixology because they are a balancing ingredient that not only brings together all of the notes in the cocktail but also acts as a flavor enhancer that brings out the full range of flavors in any drink. This is one of the reasons why bitters are so well-liked in the world of mixology.

    Consider bitters to be the equivalent of spices like salt and pepper, or even MSG, in the realm of beverages!

    The history of bitters may be traced all the way back to 1824 when these flavoring combinations had absolutely nothing to do with alcoholic drinks.

    Bitters were first developed by a German army medic named Dr. Johann Siegert with the intention of aiding in the relief of digestive difficulties experienced by infantry soldiers. But as time went on, it became clear that its applications were far more… extensive.

    The first batch of bitters was produced by infusing a variety of aromatics, herbs, barks, spices, roots, and botanicals in a spirit with high proof. The end product was a dark brown liquid with a bitter taste.

    The resultant mixture was so well-received and hailed for its purported medical powers that Dr. Seigert soon proceeded to make bitters in quantity, which eventually led to the creation of what is today known as Angostura Bitters. [Citation needed] [Citation needed]

    Coincidentally, this was also the year when the now-famous and widely used brand of bitters known as Angostura Bitters was established. The city of Angostura, Venezuela, today known as Ciudad Bolivar, served as the inspiration for the formulation of these bitters, hence the city’s name was included into the brand name.

    The Compatibility Of Astringents And Alcohol

    Bitters were originally intended to be used as medical products, therefore their applications were quite restricted, particularly when it comes to food and drink. But, thankfully, things began to turn around not long after Dr. Seigert handed the reins of his company on to his sons.

    Don Carlos, one of Dr. Seigert’s sons, made the discovery some time in the 1860s or 1870s that the nuanced taste of his father’s original bitter went very well with a wide variety of foods and drinks. In particular, it was found to complement beverages.

    He discovered that even a tiny quantity of the bitters might dramatically improve the overall taste profile of a cocktail by being added to the drink.

    This impact was even more noticeable in sweet alcoholic drinks, which, following the addition of bitters, were able to offer a taste that was far richer and more accurate than before.

    After this discovery, the emphasis of bitters swiftly shifted away from their use as a medicine, and the firm repositioned its goal to include a wider scope. They even began experimenting with other components in order to develop a variety of flavoured bitters.

    Bitters are now an increasingly widespread ingredient that are an essential component of many different types of cocktails. As a result, every bar should have a collection of bitters on hand to enhance the taste of drinks and to extract as much flavour as possible from them.

    The Traits That Are Shared By Bitters

    The following are some of the most essential qualities that define a standard bottle of bitters.


    In spite of the fact that one may assume that “bitters” would mostly have a taste that is bitter, they are, in fact, incredibly complex!

    Bitterness is, without a doubt, one of the most distinctive characteristics of a bitter of superior quality; yet, owing to the infusion of botanicals, herbs, and spices, this combination is capable of delivering so much more as well!

    Because the majority of bitters are designed to trigger a wide variety of taste receptors on the tongue, it may be difficult to pinpoint the particular flavor that they impart.

    However, you should anticipate a taste that is multifaceted and earthy, nutty, spicy, and even sweet, with a coating of subtle bitterness that contributes to the beverage’s overall flavor profile.

    Even though the original Angostura Bitters only include five components, even a little amount is more than enough to impart a taste that will make your mouth water in any kind of mixed drink! There are many more kinds of bitters, and some of them also use fruity and fragrant undertones.

    For instance, if you’re making a mouthwatering Old Fashioned, you can consider enhancing the drink with a splash of Angostura Aromatic Bitters or Angostura Orange Bitters. These bitters are made by Angostura and come in a variety of flavors.

    In the same vein, there are bitters that make use of coffee tastes, and you can discover a wide variety of bitters with a variety of flavors, all of which deliver a powerful flavor with only a few drops of the ingredient.


    Since a high-proof spirit serves as the foundation of any bitterness, you may anticipate that it will have a silky consistency. The viscosity of the bitters is unaffected by the components, and neither the viscosity nor the texture of the cocktails that include bitters is changed by their addiction.

    They are only intended to modify and improve the taste (as well as the color) of a beverage, and apart from that, they will have little to no other impact.


    Bitters have the potential to play an important part in the context of color, particularly in beverages with lighter hues.

    As you can see, bitters are often flavored and tinted using natural substances rather than traditional food coloring.

    For instance, certain bitters may be colored by the addition of butterfly pea flowers or dried beets. These ingredients give the bitters a lovely hue.

    Since bitters are sprinkled on top of cocktails as a garnish, you will not only have the chance to add a splash of unique colors (and, of course, flavor) to your drinks, but you will also have the option to do so!

    A few drops of dark-colored bitters may have a significant impact, both aesthetically and flavor-wise, on some cocktails, such as those that are lighter in color and those that use gin.

    In order to give a darker cocktail, such as a Manhattan, more color and taste, some people prefer to add a few dashes of orange and angostura bitters.


    Although the traditional use of bitters in the art of mixology is quite self-explanatory, you may be surprised to learn how adaptable this component can be in the kitchen. Bitters can be used in a wide variety of dishes. Bitters are an essential component in a wide variety of different sorts of recipes.

    For instance, they may be added to sauces to give them a more complex taste. There is no need to be concerned about adding alcohol to food since just a few drops or dashes will scarcely be enough to get someone drunk.

    Bitters may also be used in salad dressings, which will give them a totally new taste profile that is both unique and distinctive. A similar application may be made using fruitier bitters over top of sweets such as whipped cream, juices, smoothies, and other similar beverages.

    We strongly suggest that you try bitters in various dishes so that you can determine how best to make use of their nuanced taste and bring out the finest in the dishes you create.

    Be careful of how much you add to your dish since doing so in excess has the potential to quickly disrupt the natural harmony that exists between the various tastes.

    When Using Bitters, Drops Are Preferable To Splashes

    When it comes to bitters, a little bit goes a long way.

    Bitters, when consumed on their own, will always have a taste that is pungent and very bitter, with undertones of earthy, woodsy, and other flavors (depending on the ingredients).

    Because of this, it is usually recommended that you first sample the bitters or use bitters that have been tried and proven to prepare the beverages you like the most.

    When making a cocktail, many novice bartenders make the mistake of adding an excessive amount of bitters when the drink normally only requires a few drops of bitters. This is a typical error that occurs.

    In many situations, over-pouring is also typical, particularly when one is aiming for a splash rather than exact droplets – believe us when we say that this is the error that mixologists make the most often.

    It is quite simple to take a little number of bitters in a dropper and then carefully pour the combination over a drink; on the other hand, it is very simple to throw off the equilibrium of a drink when you are needed to add a splash of bitters.

    A standard Manhattan, for instance, calls for a dash of Angostura Bitters and a few drops of orange Bitters.

    You will need to swing the bottle back and forth like a pendulum and then invert it over the glass while giving it a gentle shove to release the right amount of splash in order to successfully pour a balanced splash.

    BE CAREFUL NOT TO SIMPLY TURN THE BOTTLE OVER ON TOP OF THE DRINK; if you do, you can wind up pouring in more than you intended.

    The majority of bartenders utilize a swinging motion to add splashes because it is the most effective way to obtain a measured amount of bitters into the glass. Swinging the bottle back and forth is the most common method.

    The Step-by-Step Guide to Making Bitters at Home

    You read it correctly; you don’t have to depend on bitters that you buy from the shop! Since creating bitters at home is ridiculously simple, we highly recommend that you try your hand at making your own batches of bitters. Doing so will allow you to have full control over the taste of any cocktails you mix.

    When it comes to the preparation of a quality bitter, there are three elements that should be kept firmly in mind:

    Base And Liquids. A neutral spirit (or, alternatively, high-proof vodka), mixed with water with the purpose of diluting it.
    Flavorings. A combination of several kinds of herbs, fruits, and other botanicals.
    Color. Any kind of colorants that are derived from herbs.

    Using the ingredients listed above, here is a good recipe for making a bitter that has a wonderful flavor!

    This recipe will offer you tastes that are sweet, woodsy, nutty, earthy, and bitter, all of which will go well with a variety of cocktails and even beverages that are consumed on their own!

    Remember that as long as you produce the bitters according to the components stated above, you will nearly always end up making a fascinating combination. This is true even if you make the same bitters over and over again!


    Spirits And Liquids:

    • 200 ml neutral spirit (vodka, Everclear)
    • 50 ml water


    • ¼ tsp gentian root
    • 1 tbsp dried lavender
    • ½ tsp dried mango
    • 14 teaspoons of ground coriander
    • ½ tsp sugar


    3 flowers of the butterfly pea plant


    • Add the spirit to a mason jar, Tupperware, or any other container that can be sealed, and then put it to the side.
    • Now you need to mix all of the components for the flavor.
    • We suggest placing all of the components on a plate and then proceeding to combine the plate’s contents with the spirit that has high proof.
    • After that, pour some water on top of the mixture, and then proceed to add the butterfly pea blossoms.
    • After giving the mixture a thorough shake, let it aside for one to two weeks to mature.
    • After the period of time that is advised for storage, you should see a change in hue. In the case of this recipe, you may anticipate a hue that is somewhere between light blue and light purple as a result of the butterfly pea blooms.
    • After straining the mixture into a new container, put it away somewhere cold and dry to keep it fresh.
    • It is highly recommended that you store the completed bitter in a container that comes equipped with a dropper. Doing so will make it much simpler for you to pour the combination over the top of your beverages.


    The fact that this recipe for bitters may be altered in a wide variety of various ways is perhaps the finest part about it. To create a taste that is more to your liking, you may, for instance, adjust the flavor of the bitter by adding spicy herbs or other components.

    Bitters are often used in place of alcoholic beverages; is this possible?

    Bitters have been known to be used by those who abstain from drinking alcohol. The response to this inquiry is going to be different depending on who you ask about it.

    Bitters don’t cause intoxication, but if you’re trying to stay sober, it’s best to steer clear of them nevertheless. Bitters might make your mouth feel bitter.

    Alcohol is essential to the production of bitters because it functions as the medium via which the tastes of the various components are extracted. Bitters cannot be manufactured without alcohol.

    In the majority of instances, bitters may have an ABV of up to 45%; however, depending on the kind of spirit, there are those that can go even higher.

    But even if that were the case, mixing any beverage with a high-proof bitter wouldn’t make much of a difference in how boozy it was.

    A few drops or a splash added to a beverage with a total capacity of 250 milliliters will only account for a minuscule portion of the entire volume of the beverage, which will not even register or have any influence on the overall alcohol content!

    This is the primary reason why the majority of bitters are normally classified as being alcohol-free. Bitters may, in principle, be added to drinks that do not contain alcohol without causing the drinker to get intoxicated.

    If you want to make a significant difference in the amount of alcohol in any beverage, the only way to do so is to add a sizeable amount of bitters to it. However, doing so would render the beverage undrinkable because the bitters would impart a flavor that is extremely dominant and possibly even unpleasant.

    At the end of the day, it boils down to a matter of individual choice.

    Bitters do, in fact, contain a very, very trace amount of alcohol, so if you are someone who abstains from alcohol in any form, you may want to avoid using them in your drinks because of this. If you are someone who consumes no alcoholic beverages at all.

    Will it be sufficient to make you feel intoxicated or perhaps have a detrimental effect on your body? Although this is not the case, those who abstain from alcohol, in general, should not depend on the “non-alcoholic” tag seen on the majority of bitters.

    However, for those who are more adaptable, bitters may be added, and you can even try out a variety of bitters so that you can sample a wide range of unique flavors with only a few drops.

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