Homemade Bitters

Bitters are one of my favorite cocktail ingredients. A classic cure-all and drink flavoring, if you go to any cocktail bar here in Portland, you’ll find them used in many different drinks. I usually stick to using Angostura or Peychaud’s at home, but after reading this book, I decided to try making my own. I chose two different kinds: orange spice and cherry licorice. Both turned out good! My favorite way to use them is in a champagne cocktail with a sugar cube and garnish. You could also use them to make a Manhattan or Old-Fashioned if you are a fan of bourbon.

Homemade Bitters

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To make bitters at home you need to infuse a combination of botanicals and high proof alcohol.

Bittering Agents: Angelica root, birch leaf, burdock root, dandelion bark, gentian root, licorice root, wormwood, calamas root, wild cherry bark, and orris root are all great places to start.

Flavor Agents: Try any combination of allspice berries, anise seed, caraway seed, cinnamon, citrus peel, clove, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, hops, juniper berries, lavender, lemongrass, nutmeg, rose hips, sarsaparilla, or star anise.

You can also use dried fruits, nuts and beans (like cocoa or coffee)

Homemade Bitters

To learn more about making bitters, I highly recommend reading this copy of, A Spirited History of a Classic Cure-All: Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons.

  • Orange Spice Bitters
  • 1 cup Everclear
  • 1 medium orange
  • 4 tablespoons burdock root
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 piece fresh ginger, cut in half (approx. 1 ½ inches)
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 tablespoon honey dissolved in 2 teaspoons of hot water
  • Cherry Licorice Bitters
  • 1 cup Everclear
  • 1 medium orange
  • 4 tablespoons burdock root
  • 1 tablespoon cardamom seeds
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • ¼ cup dried cherries
  • 1 tablespoon honey dissolved in 2 teaspoons of hot water
  1. Remove the orange zest in strips with a vegetable peeler and discard the white pith.
  2. Combine the zest with the aromatics and herbs in a wide-mouth canning jar. Pour the Everclear over the top and add in the liquid honey and about 1/3 cup of juice from the orange.
  3. Cover with a tight fitting lid and store at room temperature. Allow to steep for at least two weeks. Give the jar a good shake every other day or so.
  4. After the steeping process is finished, strain into a clean jar using a coffee filter. Store in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.

Homemade Bitters

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I ordered some 4 oz glass bottles with droppers from Specialty Bottle to package my homemade bitters. The new Gatsby style from Evermine was the perfect way to label the bottles, giving them a classic, vintage look.

Homemade Bitters

Used In This Project:

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Rachel (160 Posts)

Rachel Beyer is an artist, designer and creative maker based in Portland, OR. She loves crafting, party planning and illustration. Rachel runs her own creative blog, Adventures In Making and also has a line of greeting cards, art prints and handmade goodies called Camp Smartypants.

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