Want to add a little something extra to your favorite cocktail? Hellfire Bitters just might be your solve, especially if that “something extra” includes a few Scoville units, espresso and cinnamon. Tasting these straight from the bottle could induce trauma, but a few dashes here and there will certainly add a unique twist, and a delightful amount of heat to whatever you’re drinking.
Hellfire Bitters are a versatile concoction, but they really sing when balanced with sweet flavors or creamy drinks.
First, gather all your ingredients. You’ll need Everclear®, 3 tablespoons of whole espresso beans, 3 cinnamon sticks, 1 tablespoon of chopped walnut bark and, most importantly, your peppers.
Pepper selection is very important. They’re not only responsible for both the hell and the fire, but they can also greatly affect the final product. Experiment, and find what combination works best for you. We found that using a combination of whole, dried chilies adds a nice smoky heat to complement the espresso: 1 chipotle (smoky), 1 ancho (mild) and 3 arbols (spicy) to be exact.
Next, combine the peppers, espresso beans, cinnamon sticks and walnut bark in a pint-sized mason jar.
Add Everclear®. Fill to around the freeze line of the mason jar (about 1 ½ cups). Doesn’t have to be exact, you just want to give yourself enough room to shake the contents in the jar and work without making too much of a mess.
Seal tightly and let steep for 48 hours, shaking once per day. More steep time will enable the Everclear® to extract more flavor, meaning a more potent taste. Less steep time will make weaker bitters with more of an alcohol flavor. It’s best to steep to taste. And to taste, you’ll want to try no more than a drop, or you can dilute with a splash of club soda or water. It should be potent (remember, you’re just using a few drops in a cocktail), and taking a swig is not only ill advised, but downright painful.
Once it’s infused to your liking, strain all the ingredients out to finish with a nice, clean final product. To do this, place a coffee filter in a mesh strainer and strain your infusion into a clean mason jar. Straining with a coffee filter is a long process, but the end result is typically cleaner than that of a cheesecloth or mesh strainer alone.
Now that you have your finished bitters, it’s time to bottle and enjoy. It’s best to find a small bottle with either a dropper or shaker top to prevent over-usage. Keep in a cool, dry place, away from sunlight. Add bitters to cocktails cautiously, and garnish with a pitchfork.
If you’re looking to use these right away, our Fallen Saint cocktail recipe is below.
1 whole dried chipotle pepper
3 whole dried arbol chilies
1 whole dried ancho chili
1 ½ cups Everclear®
3 tablespoons whole espresso beans
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon chopped walnut bark
- Combine peppers, espresso beans, cinnamon sticks and walnut bark in a pint-sized Mason jar.
- Add Everclear® (approx. 1 ½ cups) and fill the jar up to the freeze line.
- Steep in a dark, cool place for 48 hours (or until infused to your liking), shaking once per day.
- Strain ingredients using a mesh strainer and a coffee filter.
- Funnel strained bitters into small storage bottles and store in a cool, dry place – away from sunlight.
The longer you steep, the spicier it will be. The recommended 48-hour steeping time is a good place to start, but feel free to explore longer or shorter times to taste.
As you taste your bitters, keep in mind that you’ll only be adding a few drops to a cocktail. It should be very strong if you taste them it of the jar.
If you want to make your bitters with more of a bite, you can always select spicier peppers, or slice them open before steeping. Exposing the insides to the infusion will create a spicier final product.
As always, experiment with the amounts and make it your own, but be wary of adding too much espresso. It doesn’t take much to overwhelm an entire batch.
Here’s an easy recipe to enjoy your new bitters creation:
2 oz. St. Brendan’s® Irish Cream
1 oz. Spiced Rum
2-4 dashes Hellfire Bitters
Shake the ingredients with ice and strain. Serve up, or on the rocks. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.