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Can You Make an Old Fashioned Without Bitters?

    Can You Make an Old Fashioned Without Bitters?

    In this post, we go over how you can make an old fashioned without bitters.

    What are Homemade Bitters?

    Homemade bitters, a key ingredient in cocktail making. Serve as a powerful flavor enhancer. To create homemade bitters, a mixture of herbs, spices, and other elements are infused in high proof alcohol. Incorporating bitters into cocktails allows mixologists to enhance the complexity and depth of flavors. Especially in classic drinks like the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan. Additionally. These natural flavoring agents can also be added to non alcoholic beverages and culinary creations.

    What are Homemade Bitters?

    Can You Make an Old Fashioned Without Bitters?

    The Old Fashioned, a classic cocktail dating back to the 1800s. Is traditionally made with whiskey, sugar, water, and bitters. However if you find yourself without bitters fear not! There are alternative options that can still create a delicious Old Fashioned. In this blog post we will discuss these alternatives while maintaining the utmost respect for the original recipe and its history. Lets begin by understanding what bitters are.

    Bitters are concentrated flavorings created by steeping herbs spices and other ingredients in high-proof alcohol.

    They are used in cocktails to enhance complexity and depth of flavor. The most commonly used bitters in an Old Fashioned is Angostura bitters.
    Now onto the alternatives! If you do not have any bitters available or prefer not to use them there are a few substitutions worth exploring:

    1. Orange Peel: Twist a piece of orange peel over the cocktail and rub it around the rim of the glass before dropping it in. The natural oils from the orange peel will infuse your drink with a vibrant citrusy taste.
    2. Lemon Peel: Similar to using orange peel twist a piece of lemon peel over the cocktail and rub it around the rim of the glass before dropping it in.

    This will give your drink a fresh zesty flavor.

    1. Muddled Fruit: Another option is to muddle some fresh fruit with sugar and water to create a fruity base for your Old Fashioned.

    Berries, cherries, or even pineapple can be excellent choices for this variation.

    1. Aperitif or Vermouth: If you have an aperitif or vermouth on hand (fortified wines with bitter or herbal flavors) you can use a small amount as a substitute for bitters. By exploring these alternatives with respect for tradition and referencing their original purpose within cocktails like the Old Fashioned you can still enjoy a flavorful and satisfying drink even without traditional bitters. If you find your Old Fashioned too sweet adding a small amount can help balance the flavors and bring out more depth.

    If you’re interested in making an Old Fashioned without bitters heres how:


    • 2 oz whiskey
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 1 tsp water
    • Orange or lemon peel (or muddled fruit)
    • Aperitif or vermouth (optional)


    1. In an Old Fashioned glass combine the sugar and water.

    Add the orange or lemon peel (or muddled fruit) and gently muddle to release the flavors.

    1. Add ice to the glass.
    2. Pour in the whiskey and stir well. 5. If you have aperitif or vermouth you can add a small amount to enhance the taste. 6. Finally. Garnish with additional fruit or a cherry if desired. In conclusion while bitters are typically used in an Old Fashioned there are alternatives that can provide depth and complexity to your cocktail. Experimenting with orange or lemon peel muddled fruit, or even aperitifs/vermouths allows you to create your own unique variation of this classic drink.

    Here are some resources I recommend:

    120 Alcoholic Drinks for Connoisseurs shows you over one hundred unique alcoholic drinks to make and show off to your friends and have a night you won’t forget.

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    RUBY Decanter w/ Built-in Aerator is easily the best on the market that we recommend.

    8oz Premium Flask for when you’re going out and don’t want to blow all your money on drinks.

    Stainless Steel Cooling Stones for keeping your drinks cold and classy.

    Bartending & Mixology Masterclass teaches you everything you need to know about mixing drinks and alcoholic beverages like a professional.