A Homemade Concoction
If you’ve read any of my posts on My Own Ideas, it’s no surprise I consider myself a bit of a mixologist. I love being able to have people over and make them any cocktail to fit their mood and taste. I feel like a mad scientist creating delicious concoctions!
Bitters was first created in the 1800’s and used as a medicinal tonic sold by, often, less than reputable doctors. After their medical properties were debunked, they became a favorite digestif and flavoring in cocktails, and today they are an essential ingredient to any stocked bar. When I first discovered a recipe for making my own bitters at home, I knew I had to try it!
Now, I’m not going to say making bitters is an especially easy process, like many good things, it takes time and a bit of patience, but I did have a total blast trying out the many flavors this recipe allows.
Here’s what you need:
• 2 cups of grain alcohol ( I used Everclear, but any high proof alcohol will work)
• 8 oz dried orange peel, minced
• 1 tsp cardamom
• 1 tsp coriander
• 1/2 tsp caraway or anise
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• Two clean and sterilized mason jars
• A reused bitters bottle, or hot sauce bottle
• Custom labels
Step 1: Combine your spices in a mason jar and fill with alcohol till it just covers the spices. Seal this and let it sit for 15 days, giving it a good shake once a day.
Step 2: After the 15 days are up, separate your spice mixture from the alcohol using cheesecloth. You want to separate as much liquid as possible. Reserve the alcohol in a second clean mason jar.
Step 3: Once you strain out the liquid, grind the spices into a fine mixture. Then transfer to a saucepan adding four cups of water. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 5 minutes.
Step 4: Transfer the water and spice mixture back into the orginial jar. You should now have two jars- one with the water and spices and a second one with your reserved alcohol. Seal both jars and allow those to sit for another 5 days, shaking them once a day.
Step 5: Next, strain the water mixture through cheesecloth again, this time discarding the spices. Add the water to the alcohol infusion.
Step 6: Take your sugar and add it to a small pan on medium to high heat. Stirring constantly, melt the sugar till it is liquid and brown. Remove from heat and let cool a bit before adding to the water/ alcohol mixture. Again, seal the jar and let sit for another 5 days and shake daily.
Step 7: After the last 5 days are up, strain a final time through a cheesecloth. Cut the bitters again with water by half.
Step 8: Funnel your final concoction into a small bottle and enjoy for up to a year in your fridge.
Eight simple steps, twenty five days, and one delicious chemistry project! The spices you use are entirely up to you. Next time I want to try using dried cherries instead of orange peel! I gave a bottle of my orange bitters to my boss (who is a fellow home-brewer) and he was blown away! He said he mixed it with soda water and ice. Now he’s excited to get his own home bar stocked now that he had the essentials!
Because I plan to gift my bitters to friends and family, I decided to go all out with the packaging. I reused store-bought bitters bottles and added my own personalized labels and tags. The bottles looks so great in the end my friends couldn’t believe it was completely homemade by me!