Do bitters go bad?

In this brief guide, we will discuss the following question, “do bitters go bad?”, what are the bitters, what are used for, their shelf life, how to store them properly to preserve them for a longer time, and other queries related to this topic.

Do bitters go bad? 

Yes, bitters go bad but they need a very long time, which is about 5 years or longer. The majority of bitters do not go bad easily due to their high alcohol content. However, oxidation and several chemical reactions might affect the product and reduce its quality but it will not be harmful if consumed.

In addition, there is an exception with the fruit bitters, another type of bitters, that have a short shelf life compared to bitters. Due to their ingredients, these bitters will go bad after 2 years, but consuming them does not affect your health but their taste will be altered and not the same.

What is the shelf life of bitters?

The shelf life of bitters is about 5 years. During this period, their quality is preserved. However, after 5 years their quality will not be the same and their taste and smell will change. The high alcohol content in bitters acts as a preservative and increases the product’s shelf life.

In addition, after opening the bottle some chemical reactions might take place within the product and the alcohol might evaporate.

How should I store my bitters?

Store your bitters in a cool and dry place far from sunlight to avoid their deterioration before 5 years, which is the shelf life of the majority of bitters. In addition, seal the bottle very well and make sure it does not leak any liquid.

Do bitters go bad if not refrigerated?

Bitters do not need to be refrigerated once you open the bottle. Refrigerating the bitters will not prolong their shelf life, because they are high in alcohol the bacteria can not proliferate within them and spoil the product. However, fruit bitters need to be refrigerated after opening the bottle.

What are bitters?

Bitters are kinds of spirits that have many tastes because they are infused with spices, herbs, roots, and fruits in an alcohol solution. Bitters are composed of three main parts. The most important one is the neutral spirit which is made from grain alcohol.

Grain alcohol has a high alcohol concentration and provides the product a special taste by highlighting the flavor of the aromatic products. The second part is the ingredients that give the product its bitter taste such as sarsaparilla, dandelion root, licorice root, angelica root, and many others. 

Furthermore, the last part is the aromatic ingredients like mint, cinnamon, chamomile, cloves, lemongrass, coriander, and many other aromatic herbs and spices. Moreover, one of the most famous bitters is Angostura.

What are bitters used for?

There are two types of bitters, digestive bitters, and cocktail bitters. Cocktail bitters are used usually in cocktails to balance the tastes because they have a sweet and sour taste. Moreover, these bitters can be added to simple drinks like gin and tonic to give some extra flavor. Also, they might be added to some recipes such as soups, cookies, and several dips.

However, some bitters are used to help in digestion and are known as digestive bitters.

What are the different types of cocktail bitters?

There are many types of cocktail bitters and each one of them has a different taste and aroma. One of them is the citrus bitter which is made from the infusion of citric fruits like orange and lemon in alcohol. In addition, we have the bean and nuts bitter made from chocolate and coffee beans. 

Furthermore, one of the most used and older bitters is the aromatic bitter made of spices. Lastly, the herbal bitter has a very strong taste and smell because it contains thyme or mint.

Do bitters have alcohol?

Yes, bitters are very high in alcohol, which ranges between 35 to 45%. Since bitters, in general, are added as drops in your drinks, they will not influence a lot of the alcohol content in your beverages. However, do not think about drinking bitters alone.

How do you know when bitters are bad?

When you notice any change in the color of the bitter, consider throwing it away and buying a new one. The color of the product can turn black or dark brown. However, the bitter can last for 5 years.


In this brief guide, we discussed the following question, “do bitters go bad?”, what are the bitters, what are used for, their shelf life, how to store them properly to preserve them for a longer time, and other queries related to this topic.


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