Bitters are the salt and pepper of the alcohol world, and if done right, can totally transform any drink into something really extraordinary. They make cool gifts and anybody can make them with the right supplies. Before they were big in craft cocktails, they were sold as Snake oil elixirs. Hence, the idea for my new bitters labels, I'll upload those later.
For this stage of the process, You will need the following:
-A couple of jars, one for each flavor
-A high proof spirit, I like everclear, but Vodka or a Whiskey will also do, just make sure they are at least 100 proof.
-A bittering agent, these can be Angelica, Burdock, Cinchona, Dandelion, and Yellow Gentian roots, Hops, Quassia Bark, or the ever mysterious and popular Wormwood. The possibilities are ENDLESS. You can order these online, but It's way more fun to actually go to a herb shop and get it yourself.
I'm using Gentian today, but it tends to be very VERY bitter, so I'm only adding a little to each jar until I get the flavor I want.
-Your herb/spice blend. This is the fun part, because there is really no wrong mix. It's all open to interpretation. Of course there are some tried and true classics like dried cherries and coffee beans, hops and grapefruit peel, and lemon peel and peppercorns, but you will find those on the shelves at your local liquor store. If you're making them yourself, why not have some fun with it. I like making several small batches of different flavors when I try new mixes.
Combine your herbs, spices and high proof alcohol in a jar, add whatever you like as long as the herbs are all totally submerged in alcohol, you don't want them to turn and ruin your batch. Store them in a dark, cool space, shaking it once a day to mix the batch up. I just cover mine with a small piece of dark cloth, so I remember to tend to it.
I've got a couple of jars going today. My mixes like the Cardamom and Star Anise above will steep for about 2 weeks and then it will be strained through Cheesecloth in preparation for the next step of the process. I knew I should have started my winter batches sooner.
While I'm waiting for them to steep I'm going to draw up couple of labels for my dropper vials that the bitters will end up in. Smell ya later.