Makes 2 batches of bitters
» 750ml high-proof vodka or neutral
grain spirits such as Everclear Grain
» 1oz bittering agent such as gentian
root or quassia wood, available from
» ½oz each of fennel seeds,
coriander seeds, caraway seeds,
and whole cloves I buy spices
» 4oz unsweetened dried cherries
or other fruit
» 8oz jars with tight-fitting lids,
sterilized ( 2)
» Wire mesh strainer
» 8oz glass dropper bottles ( 2)
available from sks-bottle.com
For an 8oz jar, you’ll need about 2oz of herbs in total.
Put the jar on the scale and reset it to zero. Add ½oz
of bittering agent. Then add ¼oz of each of the
spices (Figure A). Next, chop up 2oz of dried fruit,
so more of its surface area will come in contact
with the alcohol. Add it to the jar.
Pour vodka until the jar is filled to about 2" below
the rim (Figure B). Cover it tightly, and set it in
a cool, dark place. Let the mixture steep for 1–2
weeks, gently shaking the jar daily.
Now it’s time to taste your bitters and see how the
flavor is developing. But don’t taste them straight!
The flavor is much too concentrated. Try putting a
few drops in a half glass of sparkling water (Figure C).
If you like the flavor, move on to Step 5. If you’re
not quite happy, try Step 4.
If your bitters need a little flavor adjustment, you
can add more of any of the ingredients you like
and steep for another 1–2 weeks. Keep tasting and
adjusting until you like the flavor.
Strain out all the solid ingredients with a wire strainer
(Figure D). Press the solids to squeeze out as much
liquid as possible. Pour the bitters into a dropper
bottle and label. Store in a cool, dark place.
Recipes and Resources:
» Cherry bitters, and notes on the bitters-making
» Cherry-vanilla bitters: chow.com/recipes/12040
» Orange bitters: craftzine.com/go/orangebitters
» Basic bitters: craftzine.com/go/basicbitters
» House bitters: craftzine.com/go/housebitters
» A roundup of recipe links:
» An exhaustive list of bitters ingredients,
and suggested blends:
Diane Gilleland produces CraftyPod ( craftypod.com),
a blog and podcast about making stuff.