How to make your own Bitters at Home
Bitters are a must-have in the bar and a fundamental element in a wide range of cocktails, from martinis to old-fashioned and everything in between. While having famous bitters brands like Angostura or the likes on hand is convenient, making your own is simple with this basic bitters recipe.
Homemade bitters are straightforward to make, albeit one batch takes around 20 days to complete. The majority of the time is spent waiting for the botanicals to infuse the alcohol, then the water. The dash uses non-potable bitters to flavor beverages and food; they're not designed to be consumed on their own. Use grain alcohol that is 151 proof (75.5 percent ABV) or higher, such as Everclear. A 100-proof vodka will suffice in a pinch.
Which Botanicals Should You Use?
Bitters are made up of bitter-tasting roots, barks, or leaves, as well as various aromatic and flavoring botanicals (and medicinal properties). In general, whole ingredients are preferable to ground since they are easier to strain out. To expose more surface area for infusing, cut or roughly break the items.
Bittering agents can include angelica root, artichoke leaf, barberry root, black walnut leaf, burdock root, calamus root, cinchona bark, citrus peel, dandelion root and leaf, gentian root, horehound, licorice root, mugwort, Oregon grape root, Orris root, Quassia bark, sarsaparilla, wild cherry bark, and wormwood.
Aromatic and flavoring components, which can be any herb, spice, flower, fruit, or nut, balance out the bitters. Make up your own story! When feasible, utilize organic foods, especially when it comes to fruit peels. Here are several examples:
Spices – Nutmeg, peppercorns, star anise, vanilla beans, and the likes.
Herbs – Yarrow, mint, rose, lemongrass, sage, hops, etc.
Nuts – pecans, almonds, walnuts, etc.
Beans – cocoa nibs, coffee beans, etc.
Fruits – lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange, etc.
What Kind of Alcohol Should You Go With?
Use a high-strength liquor — at least 100 percent or 50% alcohol by volume — for optimal flavor extraction and preservation (ABV). Grain alcohol (such as Everclear) or vodka will produce the most neutral flavor (Absolut and Smirnoff are fairly accessible brands of 100-proof). Other spirits to try include 101-proof bourbon and rye, as well as 151-proof rum.
Bitters can also be mildly sweetened with simple syrup, caramel, molasses, honey, or other sugar substitutes. They can also be diluted with distilled water to make a product with an alcohol content of 80 to 90 proofs (40 to 45 percent ABV).
Which Infusing Method Should You Use?
Bitters can be made in two different methods. One way is to mix all of your botanicals together and infuse them in the same liquor. Making a separate infusion or tincture of each herb and then blending them to taste is the other way (seen here). Because different ingredients infuse at varying rates, I prefer this method. You have more control over the outcome if you tincture them independently. If you have an excellent recipe, though, the first technique might suffice.
How long does it take to infuse?
Infusing time might range from a day to many weeks, depending on the plant. Each tincture or infusion should be smelled and tasted on a regular basis; it will be ready when it powerfully expresses the ingredient. Put a few drops of the infusion in your palms, massage them together, and hold them up to your nose to smell. Put a few drops in a glass of still or sparkling water to taste. Keep in mind that if you taste it straight, it will be quite powerful!
Now that we know all that, let’s get to work!
Liquor with a high proof (at least 100 proof or higher)
Diluted with distilled water (optional)
Sweetening agent (optional)
- Each botanical (bittering agents or aromatic/flavor agents) should be placed in its own jar. To achieve a better and faster infusion, you may choose to cut or break the components to expose more surface area.
- Fill each jar halfway with liquor, making sure the botanicals are thoroughly submerged. Cover the jar tightly with plastic wrap.
- Jar labeling is crucial so don't forget to write the contents and date on the jars. You may also want to record your measurements, either on the label or in separate comments.
- Give each jar a vigorous shake, and then shake it again once a day. Each tincture should be smelled and tasted on a regular basis; it will be ready when it powerfully expresses the ingredient.
- Infusing times can range from a day to several weeks, depending on the botanical. Put a few drops of the infusion in your palms, massage them together, and hold them up to your nose to smell. To taste, add a few drops to a glass of still or sparkling water, or taste it directly, but be aware that it will be quite strong!
- Remove the solids from each tincture after it's finished. Additionally, you can use a coffee filter for finer filtering.
- Now it's time to get creative. Begin combining the different tinctures together in a small glass or clean bitters bottle with a dropper, pipette, or syringe. Each tincture can be used in amounts ranging from a few drops to a full ounce or two.
- Transfer the mixture to a clean container if you didn't blend your bitters directly in the bottle. It has the potential to persist for years!
That’s all that you need to know before you set out to make your own version of cocktail-and-more Bitters. We recommend starting with 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried botanicals per 4 ounces of liquor if you're new to preparing bitters (the size of a small mason jar). You may produce as many different tinctures as you want, and once you acquire the itch, you'll want to try them all. We recommend starting with at least 6 to 12 ingredients, including one or more bittering agents.