Lemon Lime & Bitters Recipe: An Australian Favourite

by Mama Loves A Drink

This is a classic Aussie favourite concoction, perfect for those looking for a very light (though note, not always low-cal!) refreshment. It has a very low alcohol content putting it on the verge between being an alcoholic cocktail and a mocktail. It is super simple to make and only requires one crucial ingredient to hand for that perfect result – Angostura Bitters.

Angostura Bitters is a herbal concentrate made with gentian (a flowering plant), herbs and spices. It is made by House of Angostura in Trinidad and Tobago, though it’s origins date to the town of Angostura (now Ciudad Bolivar) in Venezuela.

Originally produced for medicinal purposes, the recipe behind Angostura Bitters still remains a mystery handed down through the generations, but it has become a popular mixer with other heavier spirits such as gin, vodka and whiskey.

For our recipe today though, we are looking at “bitters” in its simplest form and how you can recreate this pub favourite at home. We have tagged it to both our mocktails and cocktails as the alcohol really is minute, but exists so we want to make sure you’re not caught out unaware if you’re on a strictly no alcohol diet – or under age!

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a glass of lemon lime and bitters with straw and umbrella

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Tools you will need for making a Lemon Lime & Bitters

  • Citrus juicer
  • Ice cubes
  • Cocktail stirrer
  • High ball glasses
  • Paper straws

Find all our favourite tools for your home cocktail bar here.

How to make a lemon lime and bitters

Ingredients:

  • 6- 8 dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 180ml lemon-lime soda (or you can substitute lemonade, e.g. sprite)
  • 1 fresh lime (or 15ml lime cordial/squash)
  • Sliced lemon or lime for garnish
  • Ice cubes to serve

Instructions:

  • Fill the glass with ice
  • Pour lime juice and lemonade into a glass and stir lightly (you can optionally add a squeeze of real lemon juice too)
  • Add dashes of bitters to the top
  • Garnish with a lemon or lime slice/wedge and serve with a straw so the drinker can mix the bitters to their preference

Grab your easy to print out recipe card here:

Yield: 1 serve

Lemon, Lime Bitters

lemon lime and angostura bitters in a cockatial glass with straw and umbrella

This simple and delicious recipe is a low alcohol mixer perfect for a refreshing summer sip. There are plenty of variations you can try to suit preferences in the notes below.

Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6- 8 dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • 180ml Lemon-lime soda (or lemonade)
  • 1 Fresh Lime (or 15ml lime cordial)
  • Sliced lemon or lime for garnish
  • Ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Fill glass with ice
  2. Pour lime juice and lemonade into a glass and stir lightly
  3. Add dashes of bitters to the top
  4. Garnish with a lemon or lime slice/wedge and serve with a straw so the drinker can mix the bitters to their preference

Notes

There is no 'one way' to make Lemon Lime and Bitters so you will find plenty of variations. Some use a pre-mixed lime cordial (squash) rather than fussing with freshly squeezed lime.

Some prefer the bitters to be coated around the glass rather than floating it on top as we have described which will give the finished drink a much pinker appearance, rather than a deeper red top. As always cocktails are personal and we encourage you to be creative and make it the way YOU like it!

You can also make Lemon Lime Bitters in party jug format, simply increase your quantities.

How much alcohol is in Lemon Lime Bitters?

The pertinent question many drinking a lemon lime bitters want to know is just how alcoholic is this popular NON-ALCOHOLIC drink? Well, it depends!

It depends how heavy handed your bar tender is and what your definition of “a dash” of bitters is. So let’s break it down.

What percentage of alcohol is bitters? Angostura Bitters itself is really strong – you’re not having straight shots of the stuff or drinking it neat! You’re looking at nearly 45% ABV.

How much is a dash?  We suggest in our recipe 6 to 8 dashes per glass. An Angostura Bitters bottle comes with a stopper to prevent too much coming out at once, so one dash being APPROXIMATELY 0.7ml – let’s say our recipe has 3.5ml of alcoholic bitters. Simple maths says 3.5ml x 45% = 1.575ml of alcohol.

So how much alcohol in lemon lime bitters? Following our recipe, we are assuming 195ml (6.5 ounces) of other fluids mixed with the bitters (+ ice cubes). Let’s round and say the drink is 200ml, of which 1.575ml is alcoholic, then LESS THAN 1% OF A LEMON LIME BITTERS IS ALCOHOL (0.78%).

Nonetheless, alcohol is alcohol. So if you’re wanting NO ALCOHOL in your drink, this isn’t the mocktail for you. Skip the bitters and you can still enjoy the distinct lime flavours without the pink hues and beautiful finish of the bitters.

What is considered an alcoholic drink in Australia?

In New South Wales an alcoholic beverage is considered a drink greater than 1.15% alcohol by volume. However, in Queensland and Victoria that is reduced to 0.5% alcohol by volume. We’re hunting down the rules for all other states!

Variations on Lemon, Lime & Bitters

Make your lemon lime bitters alcoholic

Want to make your lemon, lime and bitters a true alcoholic drink? The simplest variation is to add a shot of vodka in with the recipe. The distinct aromatic bitters can still be enjoyed but you’ll get a bigger kick! Drink them in moderation though as they are incredibly smooth and easy to drink too many!

Make your lemon lime bitters non-alcoholic

As we’ve mentioned, traditional lemon lime bitters made with Angostura Bitters has trace alcohol in it. If you are seeking a true non-alcoholic drink, you can look to something like blood orange cocktail bitters. The citric acid gives a similar finish with zero alcohol (getting hold of these products can often be the challenge).

Lemon lime bitters pre-mix

Being the popular beverage that lemon lime bitters is, particularly Downunder, many soft drink manufacturers now make a premix cordial that can quickly and easily be substituted; we’re totally bias but think nothing tastes as good as real lemon-lime soda and freshly squeezed lime on a hot day in our favourite drink!

The best “off the shelf” version we think is Bundaberg Lemon Lime & Bitters.

What else does bitters go with?

Although lemon lime bitters is the Aussie favourite drink, our North American readers may be more familiar with bitters being added to an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. We’ve also seen it added to mojitos and champagne cocktails. In Hong Kong a Gunners is similar but lemon lime soda is substituted with ginger ale.

If your seeking more non-alcoholic beverages with bitters, you could try your bitters with is an iced tea with brown sugar and bitters (sometimes called a Sweet Old Fashioned).

Want More Low/No Alcohol Recipes?

Head on over next to our mocktails section. Here we share with you many light and sweet treats that can be enjoyed if you are pregnant or simply prefer your cocktails without the booze!

Mama Loves A Drink advocates quality over quantity. Always drink responsibly!

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