BASIC BITTERS MAKING INSTRUCTIONS
Here, we share a basic method for making your own bitters with dried botanicals (scroll down!).
Photographs by Emily Dryden
Step 1 - Grind the Botanical Material: Grind the selected dried botanicals to a fine powder using either a mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or coffee grinder. Make sure to use dried botanicals. Grinding the botanicals increases their surface area and allows the flavor and other plant compounds to have greater interactions with your infusion spirit for more flavorful bitters.
Step 2 - Infuse the Botanical Material: Place the ground botanicals into a wide-mouth food-grade glass jar and pour over grain alcohol such as vodka. For every 50 g of plant material, we add 375 mL of 150 proof grain alcohol. We typically use 150 proof grain alcohol for a powerful infusion - though lower proof also works.
Step 3 - Perturb the Infusion: Help get the infusion going by shaking the lidded closed jar. We use a ultrasonic bath to facilitate the infusion by placing the lidded jar in the water bath of the ultrasonic bath for 30 minutes to 1 hour at 30 degrees C. Alternatively, just allow the infusion to sit in a dark cool location for 1-2 weeks, shaking your infusion every few days.
Step 4 - Filter and Bottle the Infusion: Pour the botanical infusion mixture into a nut milk mesh bag or a French Press to filter. This step may need to be repeated several times. Set aside the alcoholic infusion and use the botanical material in Step 5 to prepare a water infusion.
Step 5 - Create a Water Infusion: Add your botanical material into an cooking pot. For every part pressed botanical material, add four parts of water. Bring to a simmer in the uncovered cooking pot. Strain out the botanical material and allow the infusion to come to a boil. Cool the infusion to room temperature.
Step 6 - Combine the Alcohol + Water Infusions: Add 295 mL of the water infusion to the 375 mL alcohol infusion which will bring the final alcohol content to 42% ABV. If you are using a lower proof alcohol content, you will add less of the water infusion for a more shelf-stable product. Use a hydrometer to check the final alcohol proof of your infusion and adjust as needed.
Step 7 - Bottle the Infusion: Pour the infusion into clean glass bottles. We use glass dropper bottles. Label the bottles with the name of the infusion and date. Store the bottles in a dry place out of direct light and heat, both of which oxidize and degrade the compounds in the infusion. Alcoholic bitters with a 42% ABV can be stored for one year if kept properly sealed.