How to Make Bitters

Posted on Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

How to Make Bitters

Here’s my simple system of making bitters for cocktails or just to add to sparkling water for a special (and mainly non-alcoholic) drink. What are bitters? They are usually an alcoholic (or glycerin) infusion of herbs, spices, roots, bark, seeds, flowers and/or botanical components. Bitters are very concentrated, so you wouldn’t want to drink them on their own. But a few dashes of them in a beverage adds a very interesting layer of flavor. Bitters are natural digestifs.

How to Make Bitters

During the summer, I created Lime Bitters and a Rhubarb Bitters. I mainly followed and adapted recipes from Brad Thomas Parsons’ Bitters book. It’s a wonderful resource for making your own bitters, with lots of recipes for how to enjoy them in cocktails and food. Here’s my version of:

Lime Bitters

  • 2+ cups of Spiced Rum  (or your favorite rum)
  • lemon grass section 4 – 6 inches, chopped small
  • zest of 6 limes
  • 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 teaspoon hops
  • 1/2 teaspoon gentian
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon grains of paradise
  • 2 tablespoons simple syrup

Place the rum, lemon grass and lime zest into a quart-sized glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Crush the remaining ingredients in a mortar and pestle and add to the rum mixture. Write the date you are starting your infusion on the jar with a sharpie pen to help your memory. Keep in a cool, dark place, but also someplace that you will remember to give your bitters a daily shake.

After two weeks of infusing and shaking, you are ready to strain the solids from your rum mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Your lime bitters will be fine and dandy at this point. Or you can choose to go the distance, and take your bitters to the next level of perfection. It’s worth the effort.

Don’t discard those solids from your infusion. Place them and one cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to a low boil. Cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool. Put all the saucepan contents into a covered glass jar of their own. Shake daily for the next week. Strain this through a fine mesh strainer, and add to your rum solution. Add some simple syrup to taste – about two tablespoons. Strain one final time and pour your lime bitters into clean, small bottles.

How to Make Bitters

 

Rhubarb Bitters

  • 2 cups vodka
  • 1 1/2 cups rhubarb, chopped small
  • tangerine peel (one fruit)
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon grains of paradise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nigella seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon gentian root
  • 2 teaspoons hibiscus
  • 1/2 teaspoon sassafras
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Place all the ingredients, except for the honey, into a quart-sized glass jar with a tight fitting lid. Write the date you are starting your infusion on the jar with a sharpie pen to help your memory. Keep in a cool, dark place, but also someplace that you will remember to give your bitters a daily shake.

After two weeks of infusing and shaking, you are ready to strain the solids from your vodka mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Your rhubarb bitters will be fine and dandy at this point. Or you can choose to go the distance, and take your bitters to the next level of perfection. It’s worth the effort.

Don’t discard those solids from your infusion. Place them and one cup of water in a saucepan, and bring to a low boil. Cover the pan, and simmer for 10 minutes. Let cool. Put all the saucepan contents into a covered glass jar of their own. Shake daily for the next week. Strain this through a fine mesh strainer, and add to your vodka solution. Add the two tablespoons of honey. Strain one final time and pour your rhubarb bitters into clean, small bottles.

 

Tagged as , , , + Categorized as Bitters, Blog, gallery, Mama Beth Recipes

2 Responses to
“How to Make Bitters”

  • Chris says: December 18th, 2013 at 5:06 am

    I love the recommendation for boiling the infused ingredients and then creating a simple syrup from it. I will totally be adapting this technique in my next bitters experiment.

    I just finished around 30 different infusions for my first attempt at making my own bitters. The results turned out fantastic. My first bitters was a star anise bitters with coffee, wormwood, Brazilwood, cinnamon, clove, demerara and vanilla bean syrup to calm the heat. Made a fantastic Manhattan

    http://www.abarabove.com/diy-bitters-flavor-library/

  • Mama Knows Her Cocktails says: December 20th, 2013 at 2:53 am

    Your first bitters combination sounds fantastic! Manhattans are my favorite. I really like your idea of a flavor library. I have been making single ingredient tinctures, but hadn’t thought of combining them for bitters. I appreciate having more control in creating the right balance of flavors. Thanks for leaving such a great comment.

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