Cocktail lovers have a way of losing their minds over bitters. It’s understandable: Much time and effort go into well-made bitters, and slight adjustments in ingredients can have a profound effect on finished cocktails. These producers from across the United States take their bitters very seriously. Stock up; start experimenting; go nuts, if you’re so inclined: It’s all better with bitters.
1. Addition (from $18)
Based in Georgetown, a historically significant industrial neighborhood in south Seattle, this two-person company has created more than two dozen spice-laced products that change the flavors of a cocktail with just a dash or two. While not quite bitters, these handmade tinctures are handcrafted from whole spices, fresh herbs, chile peppers and the like using a traditional maceration process, available in flavors including rosemary and cardamom.
2. Bitter End (from $18)
This purveyor based in Santa Fe offers food-inspired bitters, such as Mexican Mole and Jamaican Jerk. You wind up with quite the savory cocktail experience that way. Bitter End's bitters are made with 100% natural ingredients—all of which are listed on the bottle.
3. Cecil & Merl (from $26)
Produced using natural ingredients, the flavors stand out in Cecil & Merl’s bitters, particularly the cherry version, which is excellent paired simply with soda water. The Brooklyn-based company, started by a husband-and-wife team, was named for their grandfathers.
4. Hella Bitters (from $20)
This Queens, New York-based company creates eight types of bitters, with flavors ranging from the standard citrus and aromatic to more adventurous ones including eucalyptus and Mexican chocolate.
5. Jack Rudy ($12)
A family-run company (named after the two founders’ great-grandfather) based in Charleston, S.C. and Lexington, Ky., Jack Rudy collaborated with Cocktail Punk in Boulder, Colorado, to create its aromatic bitters; lavender bitters are available as well. Made in small batches with burnt cane sugar syrup as a base, it’s a full-blooded American product.
6. Miracle Mile Bitters Co. (from $25)
Named for the Los Angeles stretch where it began, Miracle Mile was founded by Louis Anderman. He began with chocolate-chile bitters and the company grew from there, expanding with flavors like bergamot, sour cherry and toasted pecan. The batches are still small and handcrafted.
7. Scrappy’s (from $20)
One of the larger small-scale bitters companies is Scrappy’s, which launched in 2008 in Seattle. Its products range from classic varieties such as aromatic and celery to more out-there flavors like "firewater," and the company uses mostly organic ingredients.