SECTIONS
What would you like to know?
Share this Story

3 simple bitters recipes that will blow up your cocktail game

Heather Barnett is a freelance writer and foodie whose work has been featured in blogs, websites, magazines, and TV and radio ads. She spends her free time relaxing with her soulmate, Keith; her dog, Mosby "The Fly Slayer;" and Felix th...

Try any one of these bitters recipes, and you'll never taste cocktails the same way again

Making bitters at home is easy, and we have the recipes to get you started.

If you love making fancy cocktails as much as I do, you've probably got a bottle or two of commercial bitters sitting in your home bar right now. There's definitely nothing wrong with that, but making your own bitters at home not only allows you to be in total control of the flavors you create, but it makes you feel pretty damn cool when your friends are raving at your mixology skills on girls' night. But it's not an entirely selfish endeavor. They make great gifts too.

There are two methods of making bitters. The more accurate one is to make a series of tinctures from your ingredients and combine those to make bitters. If you're going off recipe and letting your creativity flow, that's for sure the best way to get the right mix, since it allows more control over how much of each flavor seeps into the alcohol.

More: How to make your own bitters like the hot mixologist you know you are

But some recipes may also call for tossing all the ingredients into the liquor at the same time. And for someone who's experimented to create a foolproof recipe, it's fine to go that route. But if you want to maintain your control in case you have different tastes than that person, you can still make separate tinctures, though I do recommend following the recipe exactly the first time so you know what you might even want to change.

Of course, to do that, you're going to need some recipes, huh?

Tips:

  • To make your tinctures, you need to cover your infusing agent (your ingredients) completely with high-proof liquor.
  • Don't worry if all your tinctures don't get ready at the same time. Once they're strained, they'll keep that flavor until you're ready for them.
  • You don't have to use all the tincture in each bitter. Just add what you think you want. Remember that the bittering infusions will be bitter, and that's the point.
  • Before you start, read all about the process of making bitters.

Cherry-vanilla-cinnamon bitters

Cherry, vanilla and cinnamon give a hint of sweet spice to some pretty serious bitters.

  • Jar No. 1: 1 cup dried cherries
  • Jar No. 2: 2 vanilla beans, scraped
  • Jar No. 3: 2 star anise + 4 sticks cinnamon
  • Jar No. 4: 1-1/2 teaspoons wild cherry bark
  • Jar No. 5: 1-1/2 teaspoons gentian bark
  • Best liquor choice: bourbon

Steep each ingredient in liquor for up to 2 weeks, tasting every few days until you're happy with the flavor. Strain individually into clean jars over cheesecloth, and when all are ready, combine as desired.

Suggested drinks: bourbon Manhattan, the Boulevardier, Old-Fashioned, cherry-vanilla shake

More: How to brew your own beer at home, because you're cool like that

Chipotle-chocolate bitters

Sweet and smoky, chipotle-chocolate bitters will make a truly unique cocktail.

  • Jar No. 1: 2 tablespoons cacao nibs + 1 cinnamon stick + 1 whole clove + 1 allspice berry
  • Jar No. 2: 1 teaspoon dried oregano + 1 teaspoon wormwood leaf + 1/4 teaspoon angelica root + 1/4 teaspoon poppy seeds
  • Jar No. 3: 2 dried chipotle peppers (whole)
  • Sweetener: 1/2 cup water + 1 tablespoon agave nectar
  • Best liquor choice: tequila

Steep each ingredient in liquor separately for up to 7 days (the chipotle will take only 2 or 3 days), tasting every few days until you're happy with the flavor. Strain individually into clean jars over cheesecloth. Mix the water and agave nectar well, and when all are ready, combine as desired.

Suggested drinks: Oaxaca Old-Fashioned, Rodeo Ghost, grasshopper, lemon-lime soda

Orange-ginger bitters

Angostura's got nothing on the citrusy-spicy flavors of orange-ginger bitters.

  • Jar No. 1: Rinds of 3 oranges
  • Jar No: 2: 1 inch fresh ginger + 1/2 tablespoon lavender + 1/2 tablespoon juniper berries
  • Jar No. 3: 1 tonka bean, cracked + 1/2 tablespoon gentian root +1 teaspoon black walnut leaf
  • Best liquor choice: vodka

Steep each ingredient in liquor for up to 2 weeks, tasting every few days until you're happy with the flavor. Strain individually into clean jars over cheesecloth, and when all are ready, combine as desired.

Suggested drinks: mimosa, Blue Moon beer, screwdriver, orange soda

More: How to make your own moonshine and feel like a badass in 4 easy steps

What now?

Once you've made these, you should have a pretty good idea of how to create your own concoctions. And because of the method we've used of infusing things in separate jars, you can use any leftovers to create your own customer flavors. Just remember that it's not a bitter without a bittering agent!

Comments
Hot
New in Food & Recipes
Close

And you'll see personalized content just for you whenever you click the My Feed .

SheKnows is making some changes!