Flavor Injection: The Manual’s Essential Bitters Shelf


Bitters are a critical part of many cocktails. They help to enhance certain components while also adding flavors of their own. As the spirits industry and our love of good cocktails has continued to grow, so has the bitters industry. Here’s a list of bottles that we have on our shelf that you should, too.

We’ve picked some old standards in terms of flavor, as well as some that you might not know you need, but trust us, you do.

Angostura Aromatic Bitters – The gold standard in most places. If you were to have only one bottle on your shelf, it needs to be Angostura.

Peychaud’s Bitters – Another standard for the shelf. Made by Sazerac, Peychaud’s captures the essence of New Orleans.

Hella Bitters Orange Bitters – For everything from Old Fashioneds to Tiki cocktails, these add a little extra oomph behind the citrus in your drinks.

Fee Brother’s Black Walnut Bitters – Great for bringing nutty flavors to whiskey-based drinks, especially now that it’s fall and brown spirits-based cocktails are in full swing.

Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters – Love gin or vodka? The lavender flavors here wonderfully accentuate the floral notes in these spirits and their cocktails.

El Guapo Bitters Fuego Bitters – Add some “tex-mex” fire to your cocktails. Perfectly piquant, these will kick your cocktails up a notch.

Related: Imbibing Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All

Bitter Truth Celery Bitters – A great addition to Bloody Marys, naturally, but celery bitters do great things for garden gin cocktails as well.  If you’ve got a vegetal cocktail, these will more than likely be a welcome addition.

Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters – The cherry at the bottom of an Old Fashioned is one of the best parts of the drink (just kidding, the whiskey is and always will be the best part), but these bitters will really let the sweet vanilla notes from the bourbon barrel shine.

Bittermen’s Xocolatl Molé Bitters – Chocolately and spicy, these are everything you love about Molé sauce, distilled. Use them in everything from adding a little flair to your neat whiskey to elevating your chocolate martini game.

Apothecary Bitters Mystic Caravan Smokey Pear Bitters – Both fruity and smoky, these are great for scotch cocktails that you want to imbue a little fruitiness to while enhancing the peaty characteristics.

Wilks and Wilson Storyville Chicory Pecan Bitters – Another slightly spicy blend that evokes both the Wild West and the Deep South simultaneously.

The joy of bitters, too, is that they don’t just have to be used in one way like we’ve described above. Just a few drops in a cocktail can highlight flavors you didn’t know you had before, so have at it. Go crazy with your next concoction.

Finally, if just buying bitters isn’t good enough for you, check out our piece on how to make your own.