Make Bitters Recipe

Below is a bitters recipe and instructions on how to make it. But first a little background.

Bitters is a term used in the cocktail world to refer to a bitter, aromatic concoction. It is distilled from a mish-mash of ingrediets that can include herbs, plants, seeds, roots, flowers, and bark. It usually contains an alcoholic content that can reach 70-90% so there is no issue of storing it going bad on you. It is used as an ingredient in several cocktails.

One more beautiful thing about bitters is it's stomach settling properties. This is why it is refered to as a digestif, or something that aids in digestion. Soda water with a couple of dashes of bitters has worked wonders for my stomach in the past. Give it a try.

There are two main types of bitters in the market. One is Angostura Bitters, the other is Peychaud's Bitters. These bitters recipes are made from top secret fomulas not unlike Coca-Cola.

Angostura Bitters was created in the early 1820's by Dr. J.G.B. Siegert, who was a Surgeon General in Simon Bolivar's army in Venezuela at the time. Angostura bitters is used mainly in conjuction with whiskey and brandy drinks, but it's use is limited to your imagination.

A prime example is the Manhattan:

Manhattan

One of the classic martini recipes.

  • 2oz Whiskey of Choice
  • 1oz Sweet Vermouth
  • 2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters

Shake cold and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Peychaud's Bitters is the other famous bitters recipe. Antoine Peychaud, a Creole immigrant, operated a pharmacy on the French Quarter's Royal Street in the 1830s. He began dispensing brandy mixed with bitters made from a secret family recipe. A drink that became the Sazerac.

Sazerac

  • 2oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1/4oz Pernod or Anise Flavored Liqueur
  • 1/2oz Simple Syrup
  • Couple Dashes of Peychaud's Bitters
  • Splash Water

Pour ingredients in a bucket glass over the rocks and garnish with a lemon twist.

So after that, if you want to make things easy on yourself, go and buy Angostura or Peychaud's bitters at the store. If you are the type who loves to try new recipes, you can experiment with the bitters recipe below. I found this bitters recipe in The Joy of Mixology, by Gary Regan. It is a bounty of information, and you should pick it up if you decide you want to take your cocktail knowledge to another level.

One side note. Some of the ingredients listed below may be challenging to find. The Epicentre Exotic Spices is a place I would suggest to learn more about exotic and hard to find spices.

Regan's Orange Bitters Recipe No. 5

Allow four weeks to prepare this bitters recipe.

  • 8oz Dried Orange Peel, Chopped Very Fine
  • 1 Teaspoon Cardamom Seeds (taken out of their pods)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Caraway Seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds
  • 1 Teaspoon Quassia Chips
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Powdered Cinchona Bark
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Gentian
  • 2 Cups Grain Alcohol
  • 4 1/2 Cups Water, Divided Into 1/2 Cup, 3 1/2 Cups, and 1/2 Cup
  • 1 Cup Granulated Sugar

Place the peel, cardamom seeds, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, quassia, cinchona bark, gentian, grain alcohol, and 1/2 cup water into a half-gallon mason jar and push the ingredients down so that they are covered by the alcohol and water. Seal the jar.

Shake the jar vigorously once a day for fourteen days.

Strain the alcohol from the dry ingredients through a cheesecloth. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth to form a pouch and squeese tightly to extract as much alcohol as possible. Place the dry ingredients in a strong bowl or mortar; reserve the alcohol in a clean mason jar and seal tightly.

Muddle the dry ingredients with a pestle or strong spoon until the seeds are broken.

Place the dry ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and cover with 3 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, cover, turn the heat down, and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, still covered (about 1 hour).

Return the dry ingredients and water to the original mason jar that contained the alcohol, seal, and leave for seven days, shaking vigorously once a day.

Strain the water from the dry ingredients through a cheesecloth. Discard the dry ingredients and add the water to the alcohol.

Put sugar in a small nonstick saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar becomes liquid and turns dark brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for two minutes.

Pour the sugar into the alcohol-and-water mixture. At this point the sugar may solidify, but it will quickly dissolve.

Allow the mixture to stand for seven days. Skim off any bits that float to the surface and carefully decant the clear liquid to separate it from any sediment resting on the bottom.

Measure the bitters; thee should be about 12 fluid ounces. Add 6 ounces of water, and shake thoroughly. Pour the bitters into a bitters bottle. Store for up to twelve months.