|Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 1g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||0%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
Bitters are essential in the bar and a key ingredient for many cocktails, from the martini to the Sazerac and beyond. While it's great to have popular brands like Angostura or Scrappy's in stock, it's actually quite easy to make your own using this basic bitters recipe. Also, personalizing the recipe to your own taste by using a variety of herbs and spices will give you room to experiment and create many unique flavor profiles. While our recipe will yield an aromatic style of bitters with an emphasis on orange, experiment with something different like salty-sour celery or flowery lavender.
Great for overall use in a variety of cocktails, bitters actually have culinary uses in sauces, soups, dressings, and pie fillings—just a couple of drops can enhance the flavor of savory preparations and are used in flavoring sodas and ice creams, too. Don't be afraid to try them out.
Making homemade bitters is easy, but it will take about 25 days to complete your first batch of bitters; the joy of having your very own bitters is worth the wait. Because this process requires many steps over a few weeks, you will want to keep track of where you are by printing out the directions and checking off each step as you complete it. You'll need grain alcohol, alcohol obtained from the distillation of fermented grains, like Everclear (from corn)—typically 190 proof (95% ABV) or more. In a pinch, use a 100-proof vodka. Have a small funnel and recycled bitter bottles, or a bottle with a drip.
Note: While there are multiple steps to this recipe, it is broken down into workable categories to help you better plan for infusing.
Infuse Alcohol With Herbs and Spices
Gather the ingredients.
Place the spices in a Mason jar and cover them with the grain alcohol.
Seal the jar and let the mixture stand in a cool, dark place for 15 days.
Give the jar a good, vigorous shake once a day.
After 15 days, strain the alcohol through a cheesecloth into a clean Mason jar to separate the liquid from the dry ingredients.
Once the majority is strained, gather the cloth into a ball and squeeze it to release as much liquid as possible.
Save the strained alcohol infusion for later. Label the bottle so you don't mistake it for something else.
Infuse Water With Herbs and Spices
Muddle the strained ingredients to break up all of the seeds and create a fine mixture—almost like a slurry or paste.
Place this paste into a saucepan and add 4 cups of water. You may not use all of this, but it's good to have an excess of aromatic water, just in case.
Bring the water to a boil. Cover and lower the heat and allow it to simmer for about 5 to 7 minutes.
Pour this mixture, without straining, into a jar. Cover and allow it to sit for 5 days in a cool and dry place.
Again, shake vigorously once a day.
After 5 days, strain the water through a cheesecloth and discard the solid pieces.
Measure the alcohol mixture and add an equal amount of the infused water.
Save the excess water for cutting. Cover the alcohol mixture and set it to the side.
Caramelize Sugar for Sweetener
Place the sugar in a small pan over medium-to-high heat.
Stir constantly and allow the sugar to caramelize until it becomes liquid and dark brown.
Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Combine the Three Mixtures
Add the caramelized sugar to the alcohol and water mixture—the sugar may solidify for a minute, but it will eventually dissolve.
Seal the jar and allow the mix to sit for another 5 days.
Once again, shake daily.
Finally, after 25 days, strain the mixture of alcohol, infused water, and sugar, and pour into a bitters bottle or small decanter with a tight-sealing lid.
Cut the bitters with the extra infused water, or plain water, following a 1:2 ratio. For each cup of bitters, add 1/2 cup of infused water.
Your bitters can be stored for up to 12 months unrefrigerated in a cool place.
Use in your favorite cocktail and enjoy.
Can I Replace Bitters With Something Else?
Not really. Bitters have such a strong character and flavor that attempting to find something in your kitchen to replace them is pointless. You may get some tartness and sourness from a citrus peel, but you'll never achieve the strength and flavor of a couple of dashes of bitters.