Aromatic cocktail bitters like Peychaud's are the secret weapon of a bartender. By adding just a few drops or dashes, these cocktail ingredients can immensely impact the taste of a drink. Peychaud's bitters are, for example, the key to a Sazerac cocktail.
Invented in 1838 by Antoine Amédée Peychaud, an apothecary of Creole descent, the bright red bitters are made according to an old family recipe Antoine's father brought with him when they fled from Haiti.
- Producer: Sazerac Company
- Origin: New Orleans, USA
- Manufactured in: Frankfort, Kentucky
- ABV: 35%
- Bottle sizes in ml: 148 ml and 296 ml
- Bottle sizes in oz: 5 oz and 10 oz
- Price: $12 (small) - $18 (large)
So, what exactly are Peychaud's bitters?
Peychaud's bitters are a highly-concentrated aromatic tincture of 35% ABV. The flavor is quite intense, which is why only a few drops of these bitters can alter the taste of a drink.
Peychaud's aromatic bitters, also called aromatic bitter cordial, are one of the most-used cocktail bitters. They're most popular for their use in New Orleans-based drinks like the Sazerac or the Vieux Carré. Today, the bitters are owned by the Sazerac Company and produced in Frankfort, Kentucky.
How do these bitters taste?
The taste of Peychaud's bitters is very different from Angostura's. They taste much lighter and fruitier, with licorice, caramelly sweetness, and a dominant anise flavor. But the flavor profile includes more.
It's a combination of fruits (cherry, plum, red currant, and berries), spices (cinnamon, cloves, anise, nutmeg), sweet notes (licorice, honey, caramel), and a distinctive mix of herbs.
The recipe and ingredients of Peychaud's bitters
The exact composition of Peychaud's bitters is unknown. The recipe for the medical tonic is an old family recipe that Antoine's father brought with him when he fled Haiti in 1795. These bitters are also often called Creole bitters due to the Creole heritage of the recipe.
Ingredients that are very relatively likely to be part of the recipe are gentian root and licorice.
Lately, there's even a direct competitor to Peychaud's classic Creole-inspired flavor profile. The Bitter Truth company released its take on Creole bitters and, thus, went into direct competition with Peychaud's.
Using Peychaud's bitters in drinks
The bitters from Peychaud are used in a number of classic cocktail recipes but are not anywhere near as abundant as Angostura Bitters. The reason is that the flavor profile is more challenging to pair with spirits and mixed drinks. You have to be very careful and still, in most cases, Angostura bitters remain the better match.
Peychaud's much lighter flavor profile makes it a better match for summer drinks. But its bright red color can also help to tint drinks or cocktails.
Award-winning author Brad Thomas Parsons described this way to use aromatic bitters in his book Bitters: A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All:
"Its bright red cough syrup color also helps it stand out from the competition, and just a few dashes can cause a cocktail to take on its trademark candy-apple blush."
More articles about bitters
- What are cocktail bitters - a more in-depth explanation of the intense flavors and purpose of bitters
- Where to buy bitters - A guide on how and where to get bitters for cocktails
- Best bitters for an Old Fashioned Cocktail - find out which bitters work best in an Old Fashioned.
Peychaud bitters are comparably light and sweet with an anise-forward taste. The flavor profile includes notes such as cloves, cinnamon, cherry, berries, and herbs.
Peychaud's is lighter and sweeter in taste than Angostura. It's also harder to use in mixed drinks, which is why Angostura is used way more often.
Peychaud's bitters, like hard liquors and most other aromatic bitters, don't need to be refrigerated.