Aromatic bitters are an essential ingredient in cocktails and the field of mixology. With the renaissance of craft cocktail bars, the lineup of bitters drastically expanded and improved. Each bitters product is flavored with various flavoring ingredients like herbs, fruits, roots, etc. Most of them follow a secret recipe that makes them unique and hard to copy. Just a dash of these bitters can help classic cocktails like an Old Fashioned, Martini, or Manhattan to get more depth of flavor.
However, buying bitters isn't that easy. Not every store, online or in-store, has the same brands available. And if you want to stock up your home bar with a specific bottle of bitters, finding the right place to shop for them can be tricky. Finding bitters in grocery stores can be a pain, and even purchasing them online can be problematic due to availability. Even specialized shops for bar supplies often only have a few options available.
Over time our directory of stores to purchase bitters and other cocktail-related things evolved. So we want to share our sources for the best bitters with you.
Where to find bitters in a grocery store
Not every grocery store carries cocktail bitters, but the ones that mostly do put them somewhere in or close to the liquor section.
Check the first or last aisles of the areas and look for other secondary cocktail ingredients like syrups.
The selection often is limited to classics like Angostura and Peychaud's bitters. Smaller brands like Fee Brothers, Scrappy's Bitters, and Bittermen's are harder to find.
For these, you probably have to check out larger liquor stores or buy them online. Read on to find out where.
So, what's the best way to buy cocktail bitters?
This question was a lot quicker to answer at times when premium ingredients like Angostura and Peychaud were the two main bitters brands used for cocktails. These two are still two of the most versatile bitters on the market.
As the number of brands producing versatile flavor enhancers increases, it gets harder to find great places to shop for these aromatic cocktail ingredients.
The good news is that if you only want to stock up on regular Angostura aromatic bitters, you can find them in many standard grocery stores. But once you look for more fancy high-quality ingredients products like Tiki bitters, Xocolatl mole bitters, and the like, you need to find specialty stores.
To say it upfront, buying online is your best prospect. However, as not everyone wants to shop on the Internet, I want to address different options.
Buying bitters online
There are plenty of shops that offer a wide range of bitters. They are geographically sorted to make it easy for you to find your perfect store.
Buy aromatic cocktail bitters online in the USA
- AwesomeDrinks (Shipping from New Hampshire)
- Bitters and Bottles (Shipping from San Francisco, CA)
- The Boston Shaker (Shipping from Somerville, MA)
- Chefshop.com (Shipping from Seattle)
- The Hour (Shipping from Alexandria, VA)
- KegWorks (Shipping from NY)
- The Meadow (Shipping from Portland, OR)
- Napa Valley Distillery & Vintage Barshop (Shipping from Napa, CA)
- Pearl Specialty (Shipping from Portland, OR)
- Reup Liquor
Buying bitters in Canada
- Alambika (Montreal, QC)
- Cocktail Emporium (Toronto, ON)
- Silk Road Spice Merchant (Calgary, AB)
- The Crafty Bartender (Vancouver, BC)
- The Gourmet Warehouse (Vancouver, BC)
- Qualifirst (Vancouver, BC)
- Bottleworld (Ships from Munich, Germany)
- Spiritly (Ships from London, UK) – ships throughout Europe
- Nicks Wine Merchants (Ships from Australia)
- The Whisky Exchange (Ships from London, UK) – ships worldwide
- La Maison du Whisky / whisky.fr (Ships from Paris, France) – ships worldwide to selected locations
- Bottlebusiness (Ships from Rijswijk, The Netherlands) – ships throughout the Netherlands and Belgium
- Only Bitters (Ships from Australia-NZ) – ships throughout Australia & New Zealand
Don't feel like ordering online?
Then the best places to buy cocktail bitters are probably liquor stores. Especially larger ones that also carry other rare cocktail ingredients like imported liqueurs. But also regular supermarkets can be sources of bitters.
When living in the US, you can buy cocktail bitters in ordinary grocery stores. Yet, there are some places that have a better selection than others. The best stores are:
- Whole Foods
The most popular bitters brands
Angostura bitters are the most popular and also the most-sold aromatic cocktail bitters with an unparalleled taste produced by the house of Angostura. A few drops of these highly concentrated, reddish-brown, aromatic bitters can change the taste of a cocktail dramatically. They are an ideal flavor enhancer and work great in classic whiskey, bourbon, vodka, or rum drinks.
In rare cases, Angostura bitters even build the base spirit of a cocktail like in an Angostura Colada or a Trinidad Sour. If you want to try this, I recommend buying one of the bigger bottles which contain 16 fl oz (approximately 480 ml) instead of the regular small bottle which only holds 4 ounces.
Amargo Chuncho bitters
Amargo Chuncho only offers one single kind of cocktail bitters. Yet, as this is the traditional choice to round off a classic Pisco Sour, they are a practical addition to your home bar.
The bitters have an aromatic taste, include a list of 30 ingredients, and age in barrels for up to 6 months before bottling.
Apothecary Bitters is a relatively small and new brand from Vancouver, British Columbia.
Their lineup includes fun and unique flavors and botanicals like Cacao Coffee bitters, Conifer berry bitters, and Barrel-aged Orange bitters.
Bittermen's produces some of my favorite cocktail bitters. Their Elemakule Tiki bitters or Xocolatl Mole bitters are excellent bitters for Old Fashioned cocktails.
But they have plenty more exquisite options like their Hellfire Habanero shrub, Winter Melon bitters, and Herbal Honey bitters.
The brand Fee Brothers is rather old and has been producing cocktail ingredients since the 1800s.
They have an excellent selection of cocktail bitters ranging from barrel-aged bitters to black walnut bitters to some limited edition bitters.
Hella Cocktail Co. produces some excellent cocktail bitters with flavorings like Eucalyptus, ginger, apple blossoms, and smoked chili.
Lately, the NYC-based company also started selling canned drinks with pre-mixed bitters and soda.
After Angostura, Peychaud's is probably the best-known and most-sold bitters brand and another must-have for your home bar. Originating in New Orleans, these bitters are a key element in classic rye drinks like the Sazerac and Vieux Carré.
Peychaud's is best known for its bright red hue and flavor profile offering a bouquet of fruits. They also work excellently in combination with Scotch Whisky.
Scrappy's Bitters is a Seattle-based company founded in 2009. Miles Thomas started the brand and quickly turned it into one of the most renowned bitters brands. As a favorite of many professional bartenders and home mixologists, Scrappy's offers an exciting selection of aromatic bitters.
Their Orleans bitters are one of the best substitutes for Peychaud's bitters, and also other options like their celery or lavender bitters are worth a try adding a bit of sophistication to your cocktails.
The Bitter Truth
The Bitter Truth is a brand from Germany that not only produces excellent bitters but also makes spirits and liqueurs. Their cocktail bitters lineup includes extraordinary flavors like olive (for savory cocktails), celery, tonic, and cucumber - perfect for creating contemporary cocktails.
When you look for regular aromatic bitters like Angostura or Peychaud, you should check your local grocery store. For more exotic flavors, shopping online is your best bet.
Larger grocery stores and well-stocked liquor stores often carry Peychaud's bitters. If you can't find them there, you can order them online at one of our recommended stores.
You may be lucky to find orange bitters in your grocery store. Looking in a liquor store or a specialized online shop is more likely to offer them, though.