Bitters are an essential ingredient when crafting a well-balanced cocktail. For a quick refresher – bitters are alcohol that has been flavored with botanicals that make the liquid bitter, sour, very aromatic and perfect for adding depth to drinks. Just as salt enhances the flavors in food, bitters enhances the flavors in drinks.
Basic bitters are great, but the cool thing about making your own bitters is you can totally customize it based on the kind of cocktails you drink. If you drink more vodka and gin, light liquor based bitters are for you. From orange to coffee, you can combine all sorts of flavors to add layers of complexity to any beverage. Because you want fully developed flavors in your bitters, the process takes some time but it’s all extremely easy and mostly hands-off. Be sure to use whole ingredients, not ground, so they can be strained after steeping. Try this standard orange bitters recipe to get your feet wet and soon enough you’ll be creating all sorts of delicious concoctions.
2 cups grain alcohol (everclear, 151 rum, or other high proof spirit)
1 teaspoon orange peel, minced
1 teaspoon cardamom
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon anise seeds
4 cups water
Sweetener (simple syrup, honey, molasses, or any other sweetener you prefer)
ADD all spices to a clean mason jar and cover with the alcohol.
SEAL the jar and keep it in a cool, dark place for two weeks.
SHAKE the jar once a day to ensure flavors are diffusing equally.
STRAIN the alcohol using a cheesecloth into another mason jar, after two weeks.
SEAL the jar and save the strained alcohol for later.
MUDDLE the spices from the cheesecloth in a bowl until turned into a slurry or paste.
PLACE this mixture into a saucepan with the water and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat and let simmer for 5-7 minutes.
POUR the mixture into a mason jar and store in a cool, dark place for 5 days, shaking daily.
STRAIN through cheesecloth into a jar and discard spices.
MEASURE out equal parts alcohol mixture and infused water and combine in a mason jar.
SAVE remaining water to further dilute alcohol mixture if necessary.
TASTE and add desired sweetness.