Bitters: Buy or Make Them?

Bitters are easy enough to buy, but how hard is it to make your own? With this recipe you'll have enough for your own drinks, as well leftovers for gifting.
Photo by Noah Fecks

From The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book, by Clair McLafferty

When it comes to bitters, should you DIY or buy? The short answer is both. In addition to classics like orange bitters and the spiced-cherry profile of Peychaud’s, splurge on fanciful flavors like celery, chocolate mole or “tiki spice” to add complexity to drinks.

But if you’re inclined to make your own, try aromatic bitters, which has an autumn-appropriate spiced profile similar to classic Angostura. It’s versatile enough to add to almost any drink. The following recipe makes a large batch, so consider giving a few bottles as gifts.

How to Make Homemade Vermouth
Aromatic Bitters
  • 1 medium lemon
  • 1 750-ml bottle overproof grain alcohol
  • ½ teaspoon gentian extract
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 1½-inch piece fresh ginger, halved
  • 4 whole allspice berries
  • 4 whole cloves
Directions

Using vegetable peeler, zest lemon in strips, leaving white pith behind. In large sealable glass jar, combine zest and remaining ingredients. Seal and store at room temperature. Let steep for 2 weeks, shaking jar every 2 days. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into another large glass jar. Funnel into small bottles with droppers. Makes about 3 cups.

Published on August 9, 2017
About the Author
Kara Newman 
Spirits Editor

Kara Newman reviews spirits and writes about spirits and cocktail trends for Wine Enthusiast. She's the author of Shake.Stir.Sip.: 40 Effortless Cocktails Made In Equal Parts (Chronicle Books, 2016) as well as ROAD SODA: Recipes and techniques for making great cocktails, anywhere (Dovetail Press, 2017). Email: spirits@wineenthusiast.net



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