Tuesday, November 27, 2012

DIY Bitters: Part II



A few weeks ago I posted about the first step to making bitters at home, which involved making extracts. Now I am going to detail the second step, which entails combining all of the extracts you've made into different-flavored bitters. After using up all my extracts, I actually ended up filling only 11 of the 12 dropper bottles I'd purchased, and I am pretty sure this was due to the fact that the dried fruits I'd used for the fruit extracts took up a good amount of volume in the 4 oz mason jars, so they weren't actually filled with 4 ounces of liquid extract once the fruit pieces were removed. In fact it was more like 2 ounces of apple extract and 2 ounces of date extract. But after doing some calculating from various websites, you can find a better deal buying in bulk with a dozen dropper bottles than buying 11 individually, so if you did buy a dozen then congratulations! You now have an extra dropper bottle to do whatever you would like with, the possibilities are endless!!

Vanilla extract holder? No problem! Need to add something very concentrated to something else and the unit of measurement should be even smaller than a 1/4 teaspoon? Problem solved!!!





I also suggested the option of skipping the first step and just going out and buying a bunch of extracts. If you're doing this, make sure you cover the bases of the three flavor components of bitters: a bitter root or bark, a dried fruit or vegetable, and an herb or spice. The best place to find pre-made extracts for more uncommon flavors is Mountain Rose Herbs' tincures index, they also have extract for the bitter root Gentian which I used as one of my bitter flavor sources.


I used some extracts I had sitting around in the cupboard as well as the ones I made from scratch, but will mark the extracts I added in for kicks in italics. Now to the fun part, where I combined all the flavors! I would have to say that my favorite of the bitters I made was the Bloody Mary Bitters. It added just the right zing to my favorite cocktail. The Aegean Bitters went really well with Dark Rum & Orange juice, too!

And please, don't feel constrained by the flavors listed here. The most fun part is experimenting with flavors you like, which is of course different for everyone. Feel free to switch out extracts or come up with your very own mix of flavors. If you do I would love to hear about it! I need some inspiration for my next batch, any suggestions or ideas are more than welcome!



Bloody Mary Bitters

2 Tablespoons Quassia Extract
3 Tablespoons Fenugreek Extract
2 Tablespoons Chile Extract
3 Tablespoons Celery Extract
1 Tablespoon Lime Extract
  
Celery & Spice Bitters

2 Tablespoons  Gentian Extract
2 Tablespoons Fenugreek Extract
2 Tablespoons Chile Extract
1 Tablespoon Celery Extract
1 Tablespoon Lemon Extract
1 Tablespoon Nutmeg Extract


Apple Pie Bitters

3 Tablespoons Apple Extract
2 Tablespoons Quassia Extract
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon Extract
1 Tablespoon Nutmeg Extract
1 Teaspoon Date Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract 

Mumbai Bitters

3 Tablespoons Cardamom Extract
2 Tablespoons Gentian Extract
2 Tablespoons Lime Extract
2 Tablespoons Date Extract
1 Tablespoon Nutmeg Extract
1 Teaspoon Lemon Extract


 Key Lime Pie Bitters

3 Tablespoons Lime Extract
2 Tablespoons Gentian Extract
2 Tablespoons Cardamom Extract
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 and 1/2 Teaspoons Lemon Extract

Tangy Bitters

3 Tablespoons Fenugreek Extract
2 Tablespoons Orris Extract
2 Tablespoons Chile Extract
1 Tablespoon Nutmeg Extract
1 Tablespoon Cardamom Extract
1 Teaspoon Lemon Extract


Hot Chocolate Bitters

2 Tablespoons Chocolate Extract
2 Tablespoons Chile Extract
2 Tablespoons Orris Extract
1 Tablespoon Date Extract
1 Tablespoons Cinnamon Extract
1 Teaspoon Nutmeg Extract

Aegean Bitters

2 Tablespoons Orris Extract
2 Tablespoons Lime Extract
2 Tablespoons Cardamom Extract
1 Tablespoon Orange Extract
1 Tablespoon Lemon Extract
1 Tablespoon Almond Extract


Coffee Bitters

2 Tablespoons Quassia Extract
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon Extract
2 Tablespoons Nutmeg Extract
1 Tablespoon Plus 1 Teaspoon Coffee Extract
1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Chocolate Extract

Bottom o' the Barrel Bitters

(Yep, this is what I made with the random extracts I had left. It actually came out quite tasty!)

3 Tablespoons Cinnamon Extract
2 Tablespoons Quassia Extract
1 Tablespoon Fenugreek Extract
1 Tablespoon Lime Extract
1 Tablespoon Almond Extract
1.5 Teaspoons Orris Extract
1 Teaspoon Chile Extract

35 comments:

  1. mind blown. also, thank you.

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    1. You are very welcome! Thanks for the kind comment Phi :)

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  2. Oh bitters, bitters everywhere! Those flavours sound amazing.

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  3. I have never thought of making bitters myself....they sound awesome!

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  4. Yay!! Wow, these all sound so good. I am especially intrigued by the Tangy and Aegean bitters. I love the almond component in the Aegean one. And I've been wanting some way to add a little bit of a kick to my cocktails for a while now, and I figured a spicy bitters would be a fun experiment. (I'm also about to bottle up a batch of apple-ginger shrub that has a bit of cayenne-infused cider vinegar in it. I'm looking forward to playing around with that in some drinks!)

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    1. Oh yes, spicy drinks are great! My favorite cocktail ever tasted like Mexican tamarind candy, it was tangy and sweet and had a teensy bit of habanero in it. Unfortunately it was at a restaurant and I have no idea how they made it :/

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  5. Oh my gosh! This is so cool. I think I have to make some of these the hot chocolate bitters and mumbai sound particularly fun. Pictures are amazing and totally inspiring.

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  6. Random question: where are your measuring spoons from?

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    1. I got them at Anthropologie a couple years ago :)

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    2. That's what I thought - they look very Anthropologie-like :) Love them!

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    3. Thank you! Unfortunately some of them have broken over the years and I only have the tablespoon and half teaspoon left, so I've had my eyes on this set for a bit since they do look kind of similar http://www.williams-sonoma.com/products/9087818/?registryId=3019550&fromrgl=1

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  7. Wonderful photos, directions...bitters on the plan for Monday...thanks for this fantastic blog post.
    Kristin

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  8. lovely guide! i think i might actually try this, after hearing about DIY bitters for so long. one question, though: for all the different bitters listed that you made, what sort of cocktails do you use them in? i know the one for bloody marys, and you mention the aegean one for rum & orange juice, but i'm just curious about the others. would any be suitable for, say, a Manhattan?

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    1. Thank you Franco! The mumbai bitters would be great in a manhattan. The hot chocolate bitters, apple pie bitters, and key lime bitters could go well in various martinis, and the last two could definitely work in margaritas as well. I also made a Hot Tottie a couple days ago with the apple pie bitters and it came out beautifully. Really worked well with the whiskey, honey, and lemon. The celery & spice bitters went really well with gin, lime juice, and club soda, too.

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    2. ooh, nice! well, you've sold me on the Mumbai ones at least, then. perhaps after the holidays, when i have a bit more time for personal projects.... : )

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    3. Haha, yes. The holidays are always a very hectic time. I've been wanting to make a little bar stand for my place but that is definitely going to have to wait until January, at least :)

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  9. Stumbled upon these posts via Lifehacker; I can't wait to try this and I am absolutely making the bloody mary and mumbai bitters, at least! Where did you find the lovely brown labels for the droppers?

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    1. I got a few sheets of brown kraft label paper from the site below and then cut them into the necessary size and shape and labeled them by hand. It would be easy to design your own labels and print them on on these sheets too, as they're printer-friendly :) http://www.kraftoutlet.com/store/WsDefault.asp?Cat=BrownKraftLabels&Sub=121&isThumbs=Yes&Thumbs=100

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  10. This site was... how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I have found something that helped me.
    Thanks!
    my webpage :: van nelle

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  11. Beautiful picture Eva and very inspiring. We don't really make cocktails at home but now I want to so I can make some bitters :).

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  12. Fantastic guide- and great photos, to boot! Thank you for sharing your knowledge on this olde tyme art. Im very inspired by all this alchemy. : )
    Yiamas!

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    1. Evharisto Paul! I am glad you like it :)

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  13. Oh, and big up promoting Mountain Rose Herbs- they ROCK!

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  14. Just discovered these posts. Amazing ideas and resources.

    I was curious how you decided which bittering herbs to use and how their flavors vary.

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    1. Good question! I had a list of about five that I had heard were good for making bitters, but those were the three I could find for sale for a reasonable price. All three of them are incredibly bitter, but Gentian has more of an herbal element to it, Orris has a very slight fruity, almost raspberry-tasting flavor, and Quassia has an earthy woody flavor (it is a bark, unlike the other two which are roots).

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  15. I would also like to know more about the bitter barks and why you chose the ones you did based on the flavor profile... Also why you only used dried fruit and herbs for your extracts. I've read elsewhere that using fresh fruit or herbs are ok.

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    1. You could use fresh herbs or fruit, but the flavor is more concentrated in dried-form, and dried fruits and herbs take up less physical space in the container, thus allowing more room for the alcohol which results in a larger volume of extract. Basically a space-saver :)

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  16. oh my goodness, the hot chocolate extract sounds delicious. your photos are gorgeous, thank you for sharing!

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  17. Hi, Just a wee question here, do you just taste every tinctures to make one bitter, because for myself I want to do a fig one, but I don't know which one I really need to do the final bitter! Do you have any secret or anything, to help me.
    By the way you post is awesome! I love it

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