For many modern cocktails, like an Old Fashioned, a Manhattan, or a Pisco Sour, the recipe will call for bitters. Specifically, it may call for Angostura bitters, with its warm blend of herbs and spices. Every home bar will have a use for a bottle of Angostura bitters in their arsenal.
Though, Angostura bitters are also known for having an extremely concentrated flavor, and are considered an acquired taste. If you’re not a fan of it, or if you have just come to the end of your bottle and are in need of a cocktail ingredient fast, there are several alternatives to Angostura bitters.
The best substitutes for Angostura bitters are Peychaud’s bitters, Fee Brothers Bitters, Absinthe, or Campari. Other brands of bitters, like Bittercube or Bitters Club, will also fit the bill. Additionally, you can also make your own mix of herbs and spices, or even put together a flash infusion.
Substitutes For Angostura Bitters
Angostura bitters have a spiced flavor, with cozy cloves and cinnamon. It’s a classic ingredient, dating back to the early 19th century in Venezuela. Many consider it to be an essential part of a bar since it is widely used and appreciated in so many cocktails.
When your supply runs dry, you’re going to want to replace it with something that will capture the same spicy flavor that Angostura brings. Things with notes of clove or cardamom should be your ideal, or other forms of bitters.
1. Peychaud’s Bitters
Peychaud’s bitters are gentian-based, like Angostura bitters are, meaning it can easily take the place of it in your drink. Originally created somewhere near 1830 by Antoine Amédée Peychaud from Haiti who’d settled in New Orleans, Peychaud’s is popular in its home state. It has a delicious burn from anise and mint undertones.
The flavor has been called comparable to Angostura bitters, with its herbal kick and classic gentian spirit base. Mixologists will find it to be right at home in Sazerac cocktails as a replacement for Angostura bitters. These bitters have hints of caramel, licorice, and cherry, meaning you’ll find sweeter notes in them. You may need to make adjustments for this sweetness in your cocktail.
Another adjustment to keep in mind is that of the alcohol content. Peychaud’s bitters are less alcoholic than Angostura, with a 35% concentration as opposed to the 44.7% contained in Angostura. If you need a stronger drink, consider tweaking the overall volume.
2. Bitter’s Club Aromatic Bitters
The best part about using Bitter’s Club Aromatic Bitters as a replacement for Angostura in your next manhattan cocktail is that when it was made, Angostura was the benchmark. It served as an inspiration for these gentian-root-based bitters, meaning the flavors are comparable to each other.
The blend of 26 fruits, herbs, and spices is aromatic with a much stronger punch than Angostura. Because of this, you may want to use a little less so that it doesn’t overwhelm the other ingredients in your drink. You might want to have a taste test of it first to gauge how much you might need.
3. Fee Brothers Bitters
If you like the flavor of bitters, Fee Brothers might be the Angostura bitters alternative you’re looking for. It’s made of herbs and spices, much like Angostura is, and in fact, contains angostura bark.
Fee Brothers Bitters, first concocted in 1864, is considered an orange bitter. Because of this, it carries a citrus kick that is underscored with cardamom, caraway seed, anise, and coriander. This could be a welcome addition in some drinks that need a bit of brightening.
It goes well as a substitute in a Manhattan, Revolver, a dry martini, or an Old-Fashioned. That said, since it is relatively close in flavor, it could find a place in any cocktail you’d use Angostura.
If you don’t want to use bitters at all, you’re not without solutions. The classic absinthe can be used in place of Angostura bitters in some drinks. What makes it a close approximation is the spice from anise and licorice.
However, absinthe does have a different overall taste from Angostura. It has a flavor that has been described as rather unique, and may not suit everyone’s tastes. Some find it to even have a minty flavor. You may want to try it in another drink first before you dive in with absinthe.
If you like the sweetness with the spice, it can be a good match. Use about ¼ teaspoon of absinthe for every four dashes of bitters your recipe needs.
Hailing from Italy, Campari is a liqueur that is considered a bitters, and is known for its rich sanguine hue. Campari is an apéritif, meaning it is usually served prior to a meal to stimulate an appetite. Aside from making your dinner guests hungry, it is also great as an additive in cocktails.
The drink has flavor notes of cloves, cinnamon, and a bittersweet touch that makes it excellent as a substitute for Angostura bitters. The spices are complemented by orange peel and cherry, so it is a touch sweeter than Angostura. However, this may be welcome in some drinks.
Bear in mind that the bright red tone will carry over into a lot of drinks. If you’re concerned about presentation, this could change the overall look.
6. Bittercube Aromatic Bitters
For home mixologists who are unafraid of getting bold and unique with their flavors, Bittercube Aromatic bitters are a top choice. They work as a substitute for Angostura Bitters because they come in a variety of flavors.
Bittercube Aromatic bitters come in flavors like cherry bark vanilla, bolivar, orange, and Jamaican No. 1. The best ones to use in place of Angostura bitters would be Jamaican No.1, because of its spicy notes of cloves, black pepper, and ginger. You could also use orange Bittercube, as it contains toasty notes of coriander, cardamom, and caraway.
7. Make Your Own Aromatic Bitters
If you’ve got the spices and some Everclear, you can make your own bitters blend. You will need a few weeks of time, but the result will be a delicious homemade blend.
To Make Your Own Aromatic Bitters
- Chop gentian and burdock root, and place them in a pint-sized mason jar.
- Fill the jar with Everclear and seal it. You will want to keep it in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
- Shake the jar daily. This is your bittering agent jar.
- Meanwhile, chop ginger root and zest a washed orange. Combine these, along with cinnamon, allspice berries, cloves, and star anise in another pint mason jar.
- Fill this jar with Everclear as well, storing in a cool, dark, dry place. Shake this jar once daily. This is your aromatics jar.
- After you jars have been steeping for 3 weeks. Strain them, either with a mesh strainer or a coffee filter, into clean jars.
- Mix 4 parts of your aromatics jar with the 4 parts of the bittering jar, adjusting to taste.
- Make a simple syrup with brown sugar and mix it with your combination.
- Bottle the final product and store it in a cool, dry place.
After it has had time to steep, your combination will have a very similar taste to Angostura bitters. This brew should last a while, and can even be adjusted to your personal tastes. If you see that your supply is running low, you can start the process to make more, meaning you’ll never be without.
8. Make A Flash Infusion
While concocting your own blend of bitters can be a handy replacement, it won’t do as a substitute for Angostura bitters if you require it right now. For that warm bitters flavor in short order, you can blend up similar spices to suit the need.
To Make A Flash Infusion
Use a mortar and pestle to grind up a mix of spices. You’ll want to use whole spices like coriander, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns, and gentian if you’ve got it. If you don’t have a mortar and pestle to mix your ingredients in, use pre-ground spices instead.
Add a few teaspoons of vodka or rum into your spice mix and stir it thoroughly. Strain the mixture to get any granules out, and your Angostura bitters replacement is ready to use.
Once you’ve blended it, it will add that unique warmth to your favorite cocktails.
Angostura bitters is the perfect spicy, warm addition to cocktails like a Port of Spain, A Moment of Silence, Manhattan cocktails, Bitter Jeans, or a Brooklyn’s Finest, among others. These bitters have a powerful aroma and strong flavor, and it’s essential to any bar cart.
If you find that you’ve run clean out of your supply of Angostura, a lot of other bitters can be used in its place. You can reach for bottles of Peychaud, which has a strong flavor of anise and even cherry. Bitters Club Aromatics, Fee Brothers, and Bittercube also make fantastic substitutes for Angostura bitters.
For an adventurous alternative, try Campari or absinthe. You can also make your own, either after careful steeping or a quick mix.