Orange Bitters Substitutes

Orange bitters are a popular ingredient in many classic cocktails, adding a unique and complex flavor to drinks.

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However, finding orange bitters can be difficult, especially in areas where specialty ingredients are not readily available. In such cases, it’s helpful to know about substitutes that can be used in place of orange bitters.

One substitute for orange bitters is using orange zest or peel. Simply add a twist or a small piece of orange peel to the cocktail for a similar citrus flavor. Another option is to use a small amount of orange marmalade, which can add a sweet and bitter flavor to cocktails. However, it’s important to note that these substitutes may not provide the same depth of flavor as orange bitters and may alter the taste of the cocktail.

For those looking for a more authentic substitute, there are several commercial products available that mimic the flavor of orange bitters. Some popular options include Regan’s Orange Bitters No. 6, Fee Brothers West Indian Orange Bitters, and Scrappy’s Orange Bitters. These products can be found in specialty liquor stores or online and can be used in place of orange bitters in most cocktail recipes.

Understanding Orange Bitters

Orange bitters are a type of cocktail bitters that are used to add depth and complexity to cocktails.

Bottle of Angostura Orange Bitters in a Glass

They are made by infusing bitter orange peels, spices, and other botanicals in high-proof alcohol. The result is a highly concentrated flavoring agent that can be used in small amounts to add a bright, citrusy note to cocktails.

Orange bitters are an essential ingredient in classic cocktails like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan. They are also used in many modern cocktails to add a unique flavor profile and complexity. Orange bitters are often used in conjunction with other types of bitters, such as Angostura bitters, to create a more complex flavor profile.

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Orange bitters are available from a variety of manufacturers, each with its own unique flavor profile. Some popular brands include Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6 and Fee Brothers Orange Bitters. Each brand has its own unique blend of botanicals and spices, which can affect the flavor profile of the bitters.

When using orange bitters in cocktails, it is important to remember that they are highly concentrated and should be used sparingly. A few drops can make a big difference in the overall flavor of a cocktail. It is also important to choose the right type of orange bitters for the cocktail you are making. Different brands and blends of orange bitters can have vastly different flavor profiles, so it is important to experiment and find the one that works best for your needs.

The History of Orange Bitters

Orange bitters have a long and fascinating history in the world of cocktails.


It is believed that orange bitters were first created in the early 1800s by a Frenchman named Antoine Amedie Peychaud. However, it was not until the mid-19th century that orange bitters really began to gain popularity in the United States.

During Prohibition, orange bitters remained a staple in many bars, as they were still legal to produce and sell. However, their popularity began to decline in the 1930s, and by the 1960s, they were nearly extinct. It was not until the late 20th century that orange bitters began to make a comeback, thanks in part to the efforts of cocktail experts like Gary Regan.

Gary Regan is a well-known bartender and author who has done a great deal to promote the use of orange bitters in cocktails. In 2005, he created his own brand of orange bitters, called Regans’ Orange Bitters No. 6, which has become very popular among bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts.

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Today, orange bitters are a key ingredient in many classic cocktails, including the Manhattan, the Old Fashioned, and the Martini. They are also used in many modern cocktails, as bartenders continue to experiment with new and innovative flavor combinations.

It is worth noting that orange bitters are often used in conjunction with vermouth, another key ingredient in many classic cocktails. Vermouth is a fortified wine that is flavored with various botanicals, including wormwood, which gives it a distinct bitter flavor. When combined with orange bitters, vermouth can add a complex and nuanced flavor profile to cocktails.

The Role of Orange Bitters in Cocktails

Orange bitters are a key ingredient in many classic cocktails.


They are used to add a complex and slightly bitter flavor to drinks, as well as a subtle citrus note. Orange bitters are made by macerating bitter and sweet orange peels in alcohol, along with other botanicals.

The most popular cocktails that use orange bitters are the Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Manhattan, Negroni, Martini, Brooklyn, Martinez, Pisco Sour, Rob Roy, Margarita, and Satan’s Whiskers. In an Old Fashioned, for example, orange bitters are used to balance the sweetness of the sugar and the fruit, while adding depth and complexity to the drink.

Orange bitters are also commonly used in gin-based cocktails, as they complement the botanicals in the gin and add a refreshing citrus note. In a Negroni, for instance, orange bitters are used to enhance the orange flavor of the Campari and the sweet vermouth.

Substitutes for Orange Bitters

When it comes to making cocktails, orange bitters can add a unique and complex flavor profile.

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But what if you don’t have any on hand or can’t find it at your local store? There are several substitutes for orange bitters that can be used in cocktails and recipes.

Citrus Bitters

Citrus bitters, such as grapefruit or lemon bitters, can be used as a substitute for orange bitters. These bitters still provide a hint of bitterness and add a citrusy flavor that complements many cocktails.

Orange Liqueur

Orange liqueurs, such as triple sec or Cointreau, can add a similar orange flavor as orange bitters. These liqueurs also have a hint of bitterness that can provide a similar effect in cocktails.

Orange Marmalade or Orange Extract

Orange marmalade or orange extract can be used as a substitute for orange bitters in recipes. These ingredients provide a concentrated orange flavor that can add depth to cocktails.

Orange Zest or Orange Juice

Fresh orange zest or orange juice can be used to add a citrusy flavor to cocktails. While these ingredients don’t provide the same bitterness as orange bitters, they can still add a refreshing and fruity taste.

Spices and Simple Syrup

Adding spices, such as cinnamon or cloves, to simple syrup can create a unique flavor profile that can be used as a substitute for orange bitters. This mixture can add a hint of bitterness and a warm spice flavor to cocktails.

Vodka or Rum Infused with Orange

Infusing vodka or rum with orange can create a homemade orange bitters substitute. Simply add orange zest or orange peel to a bottle of vodka or rum and let it sit for a few days. This infusion can provide a similar flavor profile as orange bitters.

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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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