The Whisky Exchange has reported a 41% increase in sales of cocktail bitters in 2020, compared with 2019, as cocktail fans “brought the bar to their homes”.

The retailer said the increase in sales was recorded in the period between January and August this year, with sales of the most well-known bitters brand, Angostura, up by 17%. The brand is often used to create the Old Fashioned cocktail.

Sales of the sweeter, fruitier Peychaud’s bitters, used in the classic Sazerac cocktail, saw sales up by 13%.

Orange bitters proved particularly popular, with chocolate, lavender, tiki and walnut also selling fast as consumers got creative, making twists on classics or their own creations, according to the retailer.

Dawn Davies MW, head buyer for The Whisky Exchange said: “When lockdown happened and no-one could get to their favourite bars people started to make cocktails at home, me included, the simple ones which people started with first were things like the Negroni, the Manhattan and of course the Old Fashioned.

“Two of these use bitters, the more people made cocktails the more they became confident in using bitters and so started to experiment with different flavours.’

She added: “Bitters are like the bartender’s spice rack, just a few drops can add subtle flavours and intrigue to the drinks. Like spices use them wisely and with restraint, as they are very concentrated, but use them as they will bring a little je ne sais quoi to your drink. 

“You don’t even need to make a cocktail, they can make a simple soda water or a gin and tonic more interesting. I love Miracle Mile yuzu bitters in my G&T to bring the exotic home or Bittermans hellfire habanero shrub in my Bloody Marys for an extra wake up call.”