How to make Homemade Cocktail Bitters

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In today’s post, I want to share with you an excerpt from my newest e-book. For the past few months, I have been working hard to create this knowledge compilation about making your own cocktails at home. I am so excited to finally be able to show you some of it! The Natural Cocktails e-book has everything you need to make wonderful cocktails in your own kitchen. It contains plenty of recipes not only for cocktails but also for various liqueurs and…cocktail bitters!

Most mixologists use classic cocktail bitters that can be bought in most liquor stores. The most common types are Aromatic Bitters and they are loved by many (for good reason!). Brands like Angostura or Peychaud’s are a staple in many mixologists’ cabinets. Renowned orange bitters by Regan and Fee Brothers have similarly dominated the market.

But what I wanted to show in my e-book is that you don’t need fancy and expensive bitters to create your own cocktails! Actually, my favorite part of the research I did for the e-book was learning how to make my own cocktail bitters. I feel like that’s a really important step if you want to make delicious cocktails from scratch. It’s a lot of fun and really allows you to showcase your creativity! In my e-book, you will find recipes to create your own Aromatic Bitters and two different orange bitters.

But what even are those cocktail bitters? Don’t worry if you have never heard the name, it’s not exactly an amateur mixologist-level knowledge! Cocktail bitters are utilized in cocktail-making by adding just a small dash or even a few drops of the bitter to provide depth to your cocktail and generally improve its taste. They are crucial in making many classic cocktails if you are following its traditional recipe.

Cocktail bitters have gone out of the spotlight but are now enjoying their revival. Similar to how we began to appreciate organic food ingredients once more, cocktail bitters are again being lauded for being the essential force behind a good authentic cocktail. The renaissance of cocktail bitters is just one of the many signs that overall, people are trying to get back to their roots.

Homemade Aromatic Bitters

Making your own bitters means you are only limited by your imagination. Herb bitters, fruit bitters, root beer bitters,… anything can be turned into a cocktail bitter if you try hard enough! Experimenting with my own recipes has been so much fun and I feel like I could write a whole other e-book about it!

Bitters are now mostly used in mixology but traditionally, they also served as medicine. Older generations believed that a few drops of a good bitter mixed with a glass of water is a great way to relax before bed and release the tension in your muscles. They are also considered to help with digestion! So if you have your favorite bitter at home, try it out the next time you have health issues – you might just be surprised!

Here you can check out my recipe on how to make my favorite Aromatic Bitter. First, you will need to create some dark simple syrup (recipe below).

DARK SIMPLE SYRUP

Necessary equipment:

  • a medium pot
  • a glass jar with a tight lid

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 1 ½ cups of whole cane sugar

Instructions:

  1. Boil the water over high heat in a medium-sized pot.
  2. Pour in the whole cane sugar and keep stirring until it dissolves completely.
  3. Pour the mixture into a glass jar, cover it with a lid, and let cool.

Your homemade dark syrup should last for several weeks while refrigerated.

AROMATIC BITTER (to use instead of Angostura or Peychaud’s)

Necessary equipment:

  • a large saucepan
  • a strainer
  • a cheesecloth
  • a small glass bowl
  • glass jars with lids

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of filtered water
  • 2 T. of homemade Dark Simple Syrup
  • 2 ¼ cups of rye whiskey
  • 2 T. of dried orange peel
  • zest of one orange
  • ¼ cup of dried sour cherries
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 6 cracked cardamom pods
  • 1 star anise
  • seeds of one vanilla bean
  • ½ t. of cinnamon chips
  • ¼ t. of quassia chips
  • ¼ t. of gentian root
  • ¼ t. of whole cloves
  • a pinch of dried black walnut leaf

Instructions:

  1. Combine all of the spices in one glass jar. Pour in the rye whiskey so that all the spices are covered. Add more if you need to.
  2. Seal the jar with the lid and leave for two weeks at room temperature in a dark place.
  3. After the two weeks pass, strain the liquid out of your jar into a new clean jar. Use a strainer and a cheesecloth to make sure you get all of the solids out. Repeat the process several times if needed. Your new jar should be filled with liquid only. Seal with the lid and set aside.
  4. Transfer all of the solids from your first jar to a saucepan. Add a cup of water and heat over a medium high setting. Bring the mixture to a boil and then cover the saucepan, lower the heat, and leave to simmer for ten minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  6. Transfer the contents of your saucepan (both liquid and solids) into a new clean jar. Cover with a lid and set aside.
  7. Leave both of the jars (one with just rye liquid and another with water and solids) for one week at room temperature in a dark place.
  8. After the one week passes, take your jar with solids in it and strain all of the liquid out of it into a new glass jar. Repeat the process with a strainer and a cheesecloth until you are sure all of the sediment is removed and you are left with only solids. Once you are sure the solids hold no more liquid, you can discard them.
  9. Now combine the contents of both of your glass jars (the one you just strained and the one with rye liquid).
  10. Add the dark simple syrup and stir to combine.
  11. Seal with a lid and shake the jar a bit to make sure the contents are fully combined.
  12. Set aside on your kitchen counter at room temperature for three days.
  13. After the three days pass, skim off any sediment at the top of your mixture. Strain through a cheesecloth and a strainer again to remove any leftover solids.
  14. Your aromatic bitter is now ready. Pour it into smaller jars on any other container. I recommend covering the containers so that none of the liquid evaporates too quickly.

There you have it, my recipe for a homemade Aromatic Bitter! This should give you a rough idea of what the process is like. Feel free to experiment with your own herbs and spices!

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