Something to Cheer About

comments (0) December 9th, 2010

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WesternGardener Jodi Torpey, contributor
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A homemade batch of bitters uses common ingredients, but produces an uncommon result.Click To Enlarge

A homemade batch of bitters uses common ingredients, but produces an uncommon result.

Photo: Jodi Torpey

Bartenders in many fine-dining establishments have made a name for themselves by mixing their own house-made bitters. They combine fruit, herbs, and spices and steep them in alcohol to create a beverage that’s a finishing touch for classic cocktails and aperitifs. The end result is always different, depending on the ingredients.

Making bitters isn’t just for expert mixologists. Homemade bitters can be whipped up using ingredients that may already be in your kitchen, like cardamom pods, orange peel, star anise, and cloves. A bottle of homemade bitters makes a tasteful, one-of-a-kind gift any time of the year.

For a recent batch of bitters, I combined the peel of one organic grapefruit, the leaves of an artichoke, dried juniper berries, cardamom pods, ground nutmeg, and a few whole cloves.

I placed all the ingredients in a large, clean jar and added two cups of vodka. I tightened the lid and let the concoction steep in a dark cupboard for about three weeks or until it turned a deep color. This made one pint of finished bitters and I bottled it in a recycled beer bottle with a ceramic stopper.

You can create your own brand of bitters by using different ingredients. Substitute orange peel for grapefruit, whiskey for vodka, and add other kinds of herbs and spices.

To complete your gift, tie on a nice gift tag and include some recipes for mixed drinks calling for bitters, like Bloody Molly, Monkey Wrench, or Champagne Cocktail.


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posted in: herbs, Recipes, bitters