Making your own bitters is a fun way to play mad scientist at home, an excellent tool to up your cocktail game at home — and they also make a great and unique holiday gift.
To make a true bitters at home you need to obtain a few wacky ingredients online or from a specialty grocer like Kaluystans, including Quassia Bark and Gentian Root. When I first began experimenting with bitters making, I used these general guidelines from America’s Test Kitchen to make my plan and roughly used this blending recipe from THE KITCHN. Both of these sites gave me great guidelines and we were off to a good start, and had some interesting and tasty results.
This year though, I am more intrigued by the infusions that I am making with the Technical Reserve from Industry City Distillery as the base spirit, and since I still have bitter root infusions from last time, I am able to blend other components in as needed, from what I call my bitters kit, a whole alchemist’s array of jars and tincture bottles.
If this is your first time attempting bitters making, here is a cheater’s guide to quick bitters you can make for the holidays. Even if you only have time to get a bottle of Technical Reserve and make a holiday spice infusion with items from your spice cabinet, it would still make a great gift for the holidays, and a great addition to mulled cider, wine, or other holiday cocktails and punches for your holiday gatherings. All you need are the seasonal spices of your choice, a few small tincture jars, a small funnel, and jar for infusing.
Below is recipe for an infusion that I am using for our mulled wine at PRINT.
1 bottle Technical Reserve, or other high proof alcohol like vodka
Zest of one orange
5 allspice berries
2 cinnamon sticks
5 cardamom pods
4 star anise pods
* If you need to use some spices in powdered form, put in 1/4 tsp of each and be sure to strain the bitters twice.
- Place the spices in a large jar.
- Pour in the Technical Reserve or vodka.
- Let rest 24 hours.
- Strain with fine strainer or cheesecloth.
- Place into small tincture bottles or jars.
- Put on a creative label or sticker!