Cocktail Bitters Aren't Just for Cocktails 

Angostura whipped cream, anyone?

Published Mar. 3, 2023.

If you’ve sipped a Manhattan or an Old-Fashioned, you’re familiar with the warm, citrusy spice of bitters. 

However, the Angostura and orange varieties featured in those drinks are just the tip of the bitters iceberg. These days, bitters come in a range of enticing flavors, from peach to black walnut to cardamom—and you needn’t reserve them for your cocktails alone. 

Don't be bitter about the limited use of bitters—read on to learn about all their untapped potential.

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What Are Cocktail Bitters? 

Cocktail bitters such as Angostura or Peychaud's add bracing medicinal complexity and complementary bitterness to mixed drinks. 

Traditionally made by infusing alcohol with aromatic herbs and spices (though some manufacturers use synthetic flavorings and glycerin, an alcohol-free liquid), they are intensely flavored and meant to be used in small doses. 

How to Use Cocktail Bitters in Cooking

When it comes to cooking with bitters, there’s one golden rule: Don’t use them in applications that involve prolonged cooking or high heat. 

Gentle simmering and oven temperatures below 300 degrees are fine, but more heat than that can drive off lighter aromas and leave behind unpleasant bitterness. 

If you can, try not to add your bitters until the end of cooking.


How To Cocktail

The first-ever cocktail book from America’s most-trusted test kitchen includes essential classics, twists on old favorites; and brand-new test kitchen creations.

Here are seven unique applications for bitters beyond cocktails.

In liquid applications, we found about 2-3 teaspoons of bitters per cup contributed noticeable, but not overpowering, flavor.

And in recipes that already call for an extract, a 1:1 substitution was just about right.

1. Add some to beer for more complex notes.

2. Flavor frostings or whipped cream.

3. Make mouthwatering meringue cookies.

4. Infuse fillings such as crème anglaise.

5. Enhance your vinaigrettes.

6. Glaze cookies, cakes, and pastries.

7. Spritz your seltzers with a hint of spice.


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