Introduction: D.I.Y. Angostura Cocktail Bitters
Most of us have heard of Angostura Bitters, and probably have an aged bottle in our pantry somewhere for use in the occasional Manhattan or other classic cocktail. But what are Bitters?
Bitters are the bartenders' secret. They are liquid concentrations of flavors. Some of them have dozens of botanicals -- spices, herbs, obscure roots, leaves, flower buds -- collected, concentrated, extracted into an alcoholic base. Liquid alchemy, steeped in history, folklore, and mythology -- these wondrous and obscure concoctions have come into their own.
A revolution that started with microwbrewed beers and then graduated to microdistilled vodkas, gins and other artisan small-batch products -- now has a new competitive ground: the bitter. The world's best restaurants and mixologists are making their own bitters and using their unique properties -- lemon bitters, spiced bitters, chocolate bitters, even sriracha bitters -- to drive a new level of signature drink.
So, can you make your own? Absolutely! Tracking down the ingredients can be somewhat of a treasure hunt. This recipe also requires a little TLC and patience.
I've tweaked the original recipe inspired by the book " Bitters" by Brad T. Parsons. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of bitters or making your own.
Keep an eye out for my signature chocolate bitters. They should be ready soon! :)
Step 1: Ingredients
2 tbsp dried orange peel
zest of 1 orange
1/4 cup sour cherries
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla bean- seeds scraped
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 cup quassia chips
2 juniper berries
1/8 tsp cocoa nibs
pinch of black walnut leaf
1/2 tsp cassia chips
1/4 tsp wild cherry bark
1/4 tsp orris root
2 cups turbinado sugar
1 1/2 cups water
5 quart size mason jars
2 funnels- one small/ one large
12 1oz boston round bottle w/ dropper
Most of the spices and herbs can be found online at Star West Botanicals & Mountain Rose Herbs.
Bottles can be found at Speciality Bottle
Note: one of the ingredients I left out from the original recipe was cardamom. The cardamom adds a really pronounced flavor to the bitters. I definitely recommend adding 5 cracked pods to this recipe.
Step 2: Prep Ingredients & Start Batch
Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out. Add the seeds and the bean to the mason jar. Zest an orange and remove any remaining pulp from the zest. Add them to the jar. Add all the other ingredients except the rye, water & rich syrup.
Next, add two cups of the rye to the jar. Add more rye if necessary until all the ingredients are covered with liquid.
Cover the jar and store at room temperature for two weeks.
**** shake the jar 1-3 times a day for two weeks*****
Step 3: Strain the Liquid
Remove the cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean from the jar and set aside. Line a clean mason jar with a funnel and place a cheesecloth on top. Pour the liquid into the jar. Squeeze the cheesecloth tightly to remove any excess liquid. I used a lime squeezer to get all the liquid out. Repeat until all the sediment is removed.
Cover the jar and set aside.
Step 4: Boil the Soilds
Add the solids from the cheese cloth along with the cinnamon sticks and vanilla bean to a medium sized saucepan. Add 1 1/2 cups of water to the saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Next add both the liquid and the solids to a clean mason jar. Cover the jar and store it at room temperature for 1 week. Avoid direct sunlight.
****shake the jar daily for one week****
Step 5: Make the Rich Syrup/ Strain & Combine
Make the Rich Syrup:
Rich syrup is really similar to simple syrup it just has more sugar.
Add two cups of turbinado sugar and one cup of water to a medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Stir to combine the sugar with the water. The mixture will be really thick at first. Remove the pan from the heat the second it starts to boil. Let the mixture cool completely and refrigerate. The rich syrup should last up to a month.
After one week, strain the jar containing the solids and water into a clean mason jar using the cheesecloth/ funnel method. Repeat until all the sediment has been filtered out.
Discard the solids and add this liquid to the jar containing the original rye solution. Add two tablespoons of the rich syrup to the jar and shake the jar to incorporate the syrup.
Set the jar aside at room temperature for three days.
Step 6: Skim Excess/ Strain
After three days, skim off any excess debris that floats to the top of the jar. Next, strain the liquid one last time into a clean mason jar using the cheesecloth/ funnel method.
Step 7: Bottle the Bitters
After three weeks and three days, they're finally ready to be bottled.
Pour the liquid into a small measuring cup. Get your bottles ready. Place a small funnel into each jar and fill to just below the brim. Place a dropper top on each bottle.
The bottled bitters may settle and become cloudy over time. just shake the bottle before use and they will be fine. They will last indefinitely, but best if used within a year.
Share with your closet friends & family!