THE SIP BLOG
If you want to create your own cocktail bitters, you’ve come to the right place. Spirit enthusiasts are making their own home-made vodkas, gins, and whiskeys, so adding bitters to your DIY list is a perfect progression.
Bitters are an incredible ingredient for transcending your mixed drinks since they’re basically spices but for alcohol-infused beverages, and as they are becoming more and more popular, understanding the popular and uncommon ingredients for bitters such as peppercorns, star anise, vanilla beans, gentian root, cardamom, cassia bark, and citrus peel will help imbibers step up their sipping game.
First, you’ll need a pair of 1-quart jars, some cheesecloth, your choice of either a high-proof whiskey or vodka, and some delightful herbs, roots, and spices (plus some extra stuff we’ll get to). When deciding on your base, remember that bitters created with vodka versus whiskey will yield two unique results. Consider the types of mixed drinks you have in mind before starting. For example, a vodka base works well with light fruit-based cocktails while a whiskey-based bitter suits Manhattans better.
Deciding on your bittering agents can be the toughest part of this process. You’ll want to consider some roots like licorice or burdock as well barks such as wild cherry bark, gentian bark, or sarsaparilla. Aromatics will be important, too; include some herbal ingredients for aromatics like sage, mint, rosemary for example. Some of these ingredients can be found at your local grocery store while others will be easier to purchase online.
Your spirit of choice should be at least 50% alcohol by volume (100 proof). There’s no need to purchase an expensive brand, however, you might want to consider a brand you enjoy for some tasty leftovers. Our 2019 winners list is a great place to find your next favorite bottle.
Making Your Bitters
You can approach this in two ways: infuse all of your ingredients together at once or infusing your them separately but concurrently. You latter would give you more control and accuracy over taste but would require some extra steps and jars. How you decide to blend your ingredients for custom concoctions will be up to your personal preference.
Grab your jar and place 1 to 2 tablespoons of coarsely cut herbs, spices, and/or fruits; pour approximately 4 ounces of your chosen spirit and seal that jar as snug as you can. We also suggest labeling what’s inside your jar if you’re trying different recipes or random combinations.
On a daily basis, shake your concoction and get those ingredients to release some flavors. Also, take a little sniff and taste and note the progression; some jars make take a solid week while others could take up to a few weeks. Before taking a little taste, add some droplets of water; if you don’t, you’re taste buds will be overwhelmed and you won’t know if you enjoy the progress of your bitters.
Let’s prep some of that cheesecloth now and carefully strain your ingredients from your mixture into another clean container. Repeat if necessary. Medicine droppers work best for measuring how much bitters you mix into your cocktail. If you store your bitters in a dry, room-temp environment, it should last for as long as you need it.
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