6 Best Bitters For A (Dry) Martini

By Timo Torner / Last updated on December 4, 2023

Aromatic bitters are an excellent way to enhance flavors in a Martini or add complexity to the drink. Just a few drops are enough to alter the taste significantly.
Three best bitter bottles to use in Martini cocktails

The recipe for a Dry Martini consists of only two ingredients, Gin and Dry Vermouth. Add both in a mixing glass with ice and stir until the drink is chilled, then strain into a chilled Martini glass. To tweak the flavors of this simple drink, you can, for instance, vary the ratios or try different brands. Another option to make the classic cocktail even better is adding aromatic bitters to a Martini. To finish off the drink, add a subtle garnish like a lemon twist.

Traditionalists may object and say that the recipe for a Dry Martini should not include any bitters. And while this is technically true for the modern recipe, adding them to the drink is, in fact, an old tradition to add depth of flavor.

Back then, bartenders of added bitters in Martinis like orange or Angostura bitters. But today, there are plenty of other options from which to choose. To find the right aromatic addition for your home bar, here's a list of 7 bitters that can elevate the flavors of your Martini.

How we tested

The flavors of gin and dry vermouth can vary significantly depending on the brand. On top, changing ratios also affects the taste of your drink. That's why we stick to classic proportions and classic brands based on a great London Dry Gin:

  • 2.5 oz Sipsmith London Dry Gin
  • 0.5 oz Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth
  • 4-5 drops to 2 dashes (about 10 drops per dash) of Bitters

For the bitters, you don't need more than two dashes in a Martini. Sometimes even less is enough to get the flavors right.

Fee Brothers Gin Barrel-Aged Orange Bitters

Fee Brothers Barrel-aged orange bitters on white background

Fee Brothers Gin Barrel-Aged Orange Bitters are a game-changer in the classic Martini cocktail! Aged in Old Tom Gin barrels, these bitters boast a richness and intensity that takes the drink to new heights.

The complex flavor profile, darker and more profound than their West Indian orange counterparts, brings an irresistible old-school vibe to the cocktail. With just a single dash, these bitters effortlessly elevate the Martini, infusing it with delightful orange notes that leave a lasting impression.

Embrace the opulence of Fee Brothers Gin Barrel-Aged Orange Bitters and experience a Martini like never before - rich, sophisticated, and utterly satisfying! Cheers to the art of bitters and a captivating Martini journey!

Fee Brothers Cardamom Bitters 

bottle of aromatic cardamom bitters from Fee brothers

Bitter tinctures flavored with cardamom are amazingly versatile. After trying - and loving- them in a Martini, we added them to Whiskey based classics like Manhattan and Old Fashioned, and they worked their magic in all of them.

They are available from various brands, yet -again -we prefer the product from Fee Brothers. The ones from Scrappy's also work quite well.

Scrappy's Celery bitters

bottle of Scrappy's Celery bitters

The wonderfully flavored celery bitters from Scrappy's were our favorites in our Martini cocktail. We knew the product performs in other Gin-based drinks like Gin & Tonic, but it worked even better in this classic.

Besides the prominent celery flavors, they have a delicate citrus note in the background. You can also use them in soda water or savory cocktails like Bloody Mary to increase complexity.

Angostura orange bitters

Angostura orange bitters bottle on white background

Adding a dash of orange bitters from Angostura works exceptionally well in a Martini. They have a pleasant, intense orange flavor paired with delicate spicy flavors in the background.

You can play with the amount you add as the taste changes with only a few drops in. Increasing the amount took away from the Gin notes but makes the drink overall more complex.

Dashfire Sichuan Peppercorn bitters

Dashfire Sichuan peppercorn bitters bottle on white background

If you like savory flavors in your Martini and are a fan of spice, these Sichuan peppercorn bitters from Dashfire are an excellent option to spice up your Martini.

Besides spicy and peppery notes, you can also find exotic flavors like lemongrass. That isn't for everyone but still an option worth trying, in our opinion.

The Bitter Truth Grapefruit Bitters

Bottle of The Bitter Truth Grapefruit bitters on white background

Incorporating The Bitter Truth's grapefruit-flavored bitters into a Martini is a stroke of genius! The addition of these bitters infuses the cocktail with a delightful burst of citrusy and fruity essence.

Notably bright and complex, they introduce captivating vegetal notes and subtle hints of hops, elevating the Martini's overall flavor profile.

Moreover, the natural aroma of fresh grapefruits that these highly aromatic droplets bring is truly enchanting, making them an outstanding and refreshing alternative to traditional orange-flavored options.

Peychaud’s Aromatic Cocktail Bitters

Peychaud's Aromatic cocktail bitters from New Orleans

Peychaud's bitters are a perfect addition to a classic Martini cocktail due to their unique flavor profile. The herbal and floral notes, coupled with a hint of anise, beautifully complement the botanicals of gin and vermouth in a Martini, adding depth and complexity to the drink.

The gentle sweetness of Peychaud's bitters also helps balance the overall taste, making it an essential ingredient for Martini enthusiasts seeking a delightful twist.

At present, Peychaud's bitters are owned by the Sazerac Company. This historic New Orleans-based company continues to produce these iconic bitters, keeping the legacy of its creator, Antoine Amédée Peychaud, alive in the cocktail world.

Should I use bitters in a Martini?

Using bitters in a Martini is a matter of personal preference. It's not a mandatory ingredient, but it can add an extra layer of complexity and flavor to the cocktail. In the past, bartenders frequently used bitters to prepare Martini cocktails, as they believed it enhanced the overall taste and aroma. 

Some traditionalists still appreciate the subtle bitterness and aromatic qualities that bitters bring to the classic Martini, while others prefer the simplicity of a straightforward mix of gin and vermouth. Ultimately, whether or not to use bitters in your Martini is entirely up to your taste and desired flavor profile. Feel free to experiment and discover your perfect Martini rendition!

Which style of bitters works best

When it comes to the perfect Martini cocktail, the choice of bitters can significantly elevate the drinking experience. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, as various styles of bitters offer unique and delightful flavor profiles. Different styles of bitters offer distinct taste profiles, each with its unique appeal. 

For a citrusy twist, orange or grapefruit bitters add a zesty kick that complements the gin and vermouth. For those craving a refreshing herbal note, celery, coriander, caraway, or rhubarb bitters do the trick. To experience a taste of New Orleans charm, the iconic blend of herbs in Peychaud's bitters provides a delicate sweetness with hints of anise. 

Adventurous souls may enjoy the bold flavors of Sichuan peppercorn bitters, while those seeking complexity may opt for barrel-aged orange bitters. Lastly, cardamom bitters introduce warm and aromatic elements that intrigue the palate. With a spectrum of bitters to choose from, mixologists can craft a Martini that perfectly matches their taste preferences and cocktail adventure. Let us know which bitters you like best in your Martini!

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