Do Angostura Bitters Go Bad?

Angostura Bitters are a secret ingredient in many classic cocktails. They provide an earthy, herbal flavor to an assortment of mixed drinks and can be used as a substitute for other bittering agents such as Angostura bark or orange peel.

Now that you know what Angostura Bitters are, let’s answer the question posed at the beginning of this article. Do Angostura Bitters go bad?

There are conflicting opinions about the shelf life of Angostura Bitters. Some people say that you should discard them after three years, while others claim they can last for decades. Although there is no official expiration date on the bottle, bitters do lose their potency over time.

If your cocktail bitters have turned dark brown or black in color, then it may be time to purchase a new bottle. Likewise, if any mold appears on the lid or inside the container then you should definitely toss it out!

If anything tastes or smells off, or you’re concerned that your bitters may have gone bad, it might be better to err on the side of caution, and pick up another little bottle.

Angostura Aromatic Bitters

What Are Cocktail Bitters?

Cocktail bitters are concentrated flavor extracts made from botanical ingredients. They are used to enhance and balance the flavors in cocktails by adding a complex and aromatic element. Bitters usually have a high alcohol content and are infused with herbs, spices, fruits, and other botanicals.

Bitters are added in small amounts, just a few dashes, to a cocktail. They can provide a range of flavors, including herbal, citrus, floral, spicy, or bitter notes. Here are some common types of cocktail bitters:

Angostura Bitters

Angostura Bitters are the most famous and widely used bitters, known for their complex flavor profile that includes notes of citrus, spice, and herbs. These are often used in classic cocktails like Old Fashioned and Manhattan.

Peychaud’s Bitters

Originating from New Orleans, Peychaud’s bitters have a sweeter profile with hints of anise and cherry. They are a key ingredient in the classic cocktail Sazerac.

Orange Bitters

As the name suggests, these bitters have a distinctive citrus flavor. Orange bitters can add bright and refreshing notes to cocktails. They are often used in drinks like the Martini and Negroni.

Aromatic Bitters

Apart from Angostura bitters, there are other brands of aromatic bitters available. These bitters usually have a strong herbal and spice profile and can vary in flavor. They can be a versatile addition to many cocktails.

Fruit Bitters

Some bitters are specifically made with fruits like cherry, peach, or cranberry as the main flavoring agent. These fruit bitters can add unique fruity and sometimes tart notes to cocktails.

When using bitters, it’s important to remember that a little goes a long way. They should be added sparingly to ensure they enhance the overall taste without overpowering the drink.

Do Angostura Bitters Contain Alcohol?

What about alcohol content… so Angostura bitters contain alcohol?

Cocktail bitters like Angostura generally have 35 – 45% alcohol but, because most drink recipes only call for a “dash” of bitters, very little is used.

Ironically, Angostura Bitters are often marketed as non-alcoholic even though they contain alcohol. If you need proof, take a look at the label. Alcohol is listed as the first ingredient.

Do Angostura Bitters Need to Be Refrigerated?

If you like making classic cocktails, there’s a good chance that you have Angostura Bitters on hand. But do aromatic bitters need to be refrigerated?

Angostura Bitters don’t need to be refrigerated and they have a long shelf life. Just store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Ideally, you’ll want to put them in a cupboard or pantry with low humidity levels, away from your stovetop or oven.

The label doesn’t say the bottle should be refrigerated and I’ve been using the same bottle for quite a while. None of my friends have complained about the quality of the ingredients in my cocktails.

How Should I Store Bitters?

In the previous section, we learned that Angostura Bitters don’t need to be refrigerated but how should you store them?

Store your bitters upright with the lid tightly screwed on so the bottle doesn’t leak or allow essential oils to evaporate. Bitters should be kept in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight to prevent the ingredients from spoiling or the flavors from becoming muted over time.

Follow this basic advice about how to store your bitters and your friends will rave about your cocktails for years to come!

Do Angostura Bitters Expire?

How long can you keep an opened bottle of bitters? Do Angostura Bitters expire?

Bitters contain a high percentage of alcohol, which acts as a preservative. A bottle of Angostura aromatic bitters has 45% alcohol which means it can last for a long time. Angostura bitters have a shelf life comparable to other spirits.

Generally speaking, most bitters won’t go bad but their flavor and aromatics wear down over time.


If you’re not sure where to store your Angostura bitters, here’s a suggestion. Keep them in your kitchen with your spices and cooking oils.

Relax, make your favorite drink, add a dash of bitters, and enjoy – because life is too short not to drink great cocktails.


By The Editorial Team

A dedicated group of cocktail enthusiasts.