Featured in Beginner Bartender

How To Make Your Own Bitters

Bitters make all cocktails taste better. And now you can make your own bitters right at home and enjoy in your drinks.

The best cocktails and drinks include bitters to enhance aroma and flavor. Bartenders are very creative when it comes to putting the right bitters in the right alcohol. And their top signature drinks feature amazing in taste, full in flavors, and sweet in aroma—we can't help but order another one.

Bitters are actually pretty easy to make, you can make some right at home. All you need is the right ingredients to infuse together and mix them in your favorite drinks. If you own a private home bar, making the bitters and using bitters in cocktails and drinks will definitely impress your guests. This is one of the best home bar essentials every private bartender needs. Or if you're training to become a bartender, learning how to create bitters is certainly a plus. Bitters are the key to whipping up amazing tasting drinks. So, begin to make your own bitters now.

Your Choice in Botanicals

There's a wide variety of flavors of bitters you must try. Bitters mainly consist of bitter-tasting barks, roots, or even leaves along with additional ingredients for flavor and aroma. It’s also best if you use whole ingredients than grounded, because it’ll be easier to strain the flavors out. You can also chop up the ingredients or break them apart, but try to avoid grinding them.

Bittering agents most likely make up a large percentage of the bitter itself. You can get your hands on plants like barberry root, licorice root, black walnut leaf, cinchona bark, Oregon grape root, and much more to put in your bitter.

Include aromatic and flavor agents.

Now it's time to add in the aromatic and flavor agents. This is where the spices and herbs come along. On how to make your own bitters, you can basically include any type of flower, fruit, herb, spice, or nut you want. You can get very creative with this. Also, make sure you use organic and natural ingredients, especially for fruit.

You can use spices like allspice, cinnamon, cloves, celery seed, nutmeg, vanilla beans, peppercorns, etc. For herbs and fruits, chamomile, lavender, mint, thyme, rose, yarrow, and others are perfect for bitters. Fruits such as orange, lime, grapefruit are ideal either fresh or dried. And for dried fruits, apples, figs, raisins, and cherries are best. Nuts like pecans, walnuts, almonds are mainly used. You can even use beans like coca nibs, coffee beans, and much more.

Consider the alcohol to use.

If you want intense flavor extractions and preservation, consider using a high-proof liquor, like 100 proof or even 50 percent in ABV. By using high-proof liquor, the flavors and aroma will maximize, leaving you with a great tasting bitter.

For a more neutral flavor, grain alcohol like Everclear or vodka such as Absolut and Smirnoff are brands of 100 proof. Why not experiment as well? When it comes to how to make your own bitters, you can test the waters with other spirits like 101-proof bourbon and rye or even 151-proof rum. It all depends on you and your liking.

You can also add in additional ingredients.

Add any additional ingredients for more flavor! Bitters can be sweetened a little by adding any simple syrup, molasses, honey, caramel, or other great sweeteners. But if you want them to be mildly sweet, you can dilute it with distilled water; add any of these ingredients at the end.

Adding this can make the final product no lower than 80 or 90 proof or even 40 to 45 percent ABV. If you love sweet bitters, give this a shot. Even though you don't have to include any sweeteners, it makes some of the cocktails great to drink.

Start infusing them together.

From how to make your own bitters, you're ready to infuse them all together. There are two methods on making bitters. One of them is combing all of your botanicals and infusing them into the liquor. The second technique is making separate infusions for each botanical and then blend them to taste.

Many people prefer using the second method, because it gives you more control over the results. The different ingredients infused at different rates, so you’ll know when each part has been properly infused. Either way, both methods work perfectly fine.

How long does this process take?

Infusing can take up to a day to even several weeks depending on the botanical you’re using. While infusing them, try smelling and sampling each infusion often. You’ll know when it's ready when it strongly conveys the ingredients.

In order to smell the infusion, you can place a few of drops on your palm and rub them together before holding your hands up to your nose. As for taste, place a few drops in a glass of still or sparkling water and test it out. 

Strain, cook, and combine the mixture.

Once infused, strain the spirit into a jar and use a cheesecloth to seal it. Then, heat the solids on a stove with water and put the rest of the mixture, like the water and alcohol-soaked ingredients, into a separate jar and let it sit for one week. In order to make your own bitters, this step is very important.

After, strain the solids and combine the infused alcohol with the water. If the liquid still has residue, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. Now, throw in your sweeteners like honey, molasses, syrup, etc., shake the bottle until the sweetener is completely dissolved into the mixture, and let it sit for three days. 

Bottle the bitters up!

Now that your bitters are properly infused and mixed, lastly on how to make your own bitters is bottling them up! You can use dropper bottles like one, two, or even four ounce bottles that can be found at the supply store or on Amazon. Also, label the bitters so you know what bitter is what.

You can now use these great bitters in your cocktails and classic drinks. When whipping up a drink from your home bar, put a few drops of your homemade bitter for a drink filled with flavors and aromas. You'll never go back to store-bought bitters again.

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How To Make Your Own Bitters
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