Bitters are a staple in cocktail culture, giving depth & complexity to drinks. While you can buy a bottle of Angostura or Peychaud’s bitters in any liquor store, making your own can offer some creative twists & renewed interest in classic cocktails.
Homemade bitters can be made in a wide range of flavors & methods. From a simple tincture of dried botanicals to a complex blend of different herbs, spices, fruits & even flowers, bitters can be adapted for a wide range of purposes.
First, you’ll need to source the ingredients for your tincture. Gather together all of the roots, barks, spices, berries, leaves, herbs or other flavorings you wish to use.
Place these into a glass jar or similar container. Add your high-proof alcohol, a little less than a cup, to cover the botanicals. Seal the jar and let sit for a few days, shaking it once or twice a day.
The infusion process will take about a week. At this point, you’ll want to test the aroma of your tincture daily. It should smell quite strong, but not overpowering. When you can smell the scents without sneezing, it’s time to filter out the solids and mix the infused liquids.
Next, add the filtered liquids to a glass bottle or dropper bottle and shake it. Taste it, and see if you need to add more simple syrup or water. If you’re unsure, just start small and add more as needed.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try adding a bit of molasses, honey or maple syrup to the tincture, as well. You’ll find that these can enhance the flavor and make it easier to blend in a variety of other ingredients.
When you’re happy with the results, pour your tincture into a clean jar or other bottle. Label it and store it in a cool dark place.
Once you have a batch of tincture on hand, you’ll be ready to begin using it in your favorite cocktails. Typically, bitters are used to flavor and add spice to drinks, such as a traditional old fashioned or a gin fizz.
You can also add them to ice cream, soups or other recipes. They can even be used as a natural cure for stomach ailments.
The recipe for making your own bitters is fairly straightforward, and it takes a lot of patience. But with a few weeks of work, you’ll end up with some amazingly delicious – and very unique – bitters to keep in your cupboard or give away as gifts.