An Elixir for All that’s Bland.
A necessity for countless cocktails, Aromatic Bitters are a classic flavor enhancer. The secret ingredient, working behind the scenes to make our favorite libations sing. At one time, they were thought to have mystical curative powers. Now, they cure our drinks. And we’re more than content with that.
If you’re new to the world of bitters, check out our Bitters Basics. You may find it helpful as you navigate through the recipe below. It seems like a lot of ingredients and steps, but the recipe itself is surprisingly simple and the end result is well worth the wait.
We’ll be using a fair amount of ingredients and, ultimately, combining two separate infusions. To help us keep them straight, we’ll call one jar the bittering jar and one the aromatics jar. Keeping these jars separate for now will give us greater control over the flavor of the finished product.
For the bittering jar, you’ll need 2 tablespoons of chopped gentian root and 2 tablespoons of chopped burdock root.
For the aromatics jar, you’ll need an orange, 2 cinnamon sticks, 15 whole allspice berries, 10 whole cloves, 3 whole star anise and fresh ginger root.
We’ll be using Everclear® to extract the flavors from both jars. About 3 cups should cover both.
First step is to roughly chop a 2-inch nub of unpeeled ginger root. There’s no right or wrong way to chop, the purpose is to increase the ginger’s surface area and strengthen the flavor in the infusion. Once chopped, place into a pint-sized mason jar.
Using a vegetable peeler, carefully peel the zest from an orange in a long spiral, and remove its pith by scraping it away with a sharp knife. Once the pith is removed, place the zest in the jar along with the ginger.
Add the cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves and star anise. This will be your aromatics jar.
In another 12 oz. mason jar, combine the gentian root and burdock root. This will be your bittering jar.
Fill both jars up to the 12 oz. line with Everclear®. Seal tightly and steep for 3 weeks (or to taste) in a cool, dry place away from sunlight. Shake at least every other day during the steep time.
Once both jars are infused to your liking, it’s time to strain. Using a mesh strainer and coffee filters, strain each jar into separate, clean jars.
Now that you have your strained liquids, you need to find the right ratio of aromatics to bitters. The bittering agents can quickly overpower, so combining them all at once can spoil the entire batch. We recommend combing in small quantities to find your preferred ratio. Start by combining a ½ teaspoon from each jar in a small container, taste, and go from there. Three or four parts aromatics to one part bitter is about right. But feel free to alter that ratio to taste, and keep in mind that the mixture can be sweetened with simple syrup.
Once you find your preferred ratio, measure the liquid in your aromatics jar, and add the requisite amount of liquid from your bitters jar.
You’ll probably use your entire aromatics jar and only part of the liquid from your bitters jar. The remaining liquid in the bitters jar can be saved for a future batch.
If added sweetness is desired, make brown sugar simple syrup by combining one part brown sugar and one part water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Stir continuously until sugar is fully dissolved. Cool to room temperature, and add brown sugar simple syrup to your bitters to taste. It doesn’t take much, and it’s best to start slow to avoid ruining the batch you’ve worked so hard to create. Try a teaspoon at a time.
Finally, your Aromatic Bitters are done. Funnel them into bitters bottles. We prefer bottles that have either a dropper or dasher top. Store in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. Maybe you should enjoy a nice Manhattan or Old Fashioned and reward yourself for a job well done.
2 tablespoons gentian root
2 tablespoons burdock root
1 ½ cups Everclear® (approx.)
1 orange zest
2 cinnamon sticks
15 whole allspice berries
10 whole cloves
3 whole star anise
1 ½ oz. freshly chopped ginger (about a 2” nub)
1 ½ cups Everclear® (approx.)
Brown sugar simple syrup
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup water
- Bittering Jar:
- Put chopped gentian root and burdock root in a pint-sized mason jar.
- Fill to the 12 oz. line with Everclear®. Seal and store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Shake once daily.
- Aromatic Jar:
- Roughly chop ginger root.
- Peel zest from a freshly washed orange and remove the pith.
- Combine ginger root, orange zest, cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, cloves and star anise in pint-sized mason jar.
- Fill to the 12 oz. mark with Everclear®. Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Shake once daily.
- Brown Sugar Simple Syrup:
- Combine brown sugar and water in small sauce pan. Bring to boil, stirring continuously until sugar is dissolved.
- After steeping both jars for 3 weeks, strain into separate, clean jars using a mesh strainer and a coffee filter.
- Mix 4 parts flavoring agent to 1 part bittering agent (or to taste)
- Add brown sugar simple syrup to taste
- Bottle, store in a cool, dry place, and enjoy.