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bitters recipes

Create your own bitters with Shoots & Roots Bitters recipes.

Here, we share a basic method for making bitters followed by three bitters recipes from our upcoming book Botany at the Bar including:

Hanging Gardens of Babylon Bitters

Grape Sazerac Bitters

Demon Flower Bitters

Scroll down to view these recipes. These bitters were featured in three cocktail recipes presented in the Science of Spirits feature in the December 2017 inflight magazine of Southwest Airlines.  




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 100 g of plant material, we add 750 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 1339 mL of the water infusion to the 750 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.  


Shoots & roots bitters recipes

Hanging Gardens of Babylon bitters

Hanging Gardens is a blend inspired by the elusive Wonder of the Ancient World, and a reimagining of the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern herbs that may have grown there. Was this legendary garden a mythical ideal or a reality, and what may have been cultivated?

40 g powdered pomegranate seed and fruit (Punica granatum)
60 g lightly toasted black barley (Hordeum vulgare) – do not pulverize! Leave whole.
30 g cup roasted coriander seed (Coriandrum sativum)
40 g parsley root (Petroselinum crispum)
20 g dried parsley leaf (Petroselinum crispum)
15 bay leaves (Laurus nobilis)
10 g anise seed (Pimpinella anisum)
20 g sumac fruit, fresh or dried (Rhus coriaria)
20 g dried amla fruit (Emblica officinalis)
10 g dried bergamot leaf (Citrus bergamia)
20 g dried lemon peel (Citrus × limon)
5 g thyme (Thymus vulgaris)


grape sazerac bitters

This is a classic bitters which was meant to be enjoyed in a cognac Sazerac that since became whiskey- because of the Phylloxera insect that invaded and wiped out most of the grape plantations. So we added a little grape to this recipe in place of sugar. Don’t try to grind the raisins, but instead, cut them each in half with scissors and add them to the alcohol to infuse.

100 g raisins (Vitis vinifera)
30 g dried pomelo peel (Citrus maxima)
20 g bitter orange peel (Citrus × aurantium)
20 g lime peel (Citrus × aurantifolia)
30 g celery seed (Apium graveolens)
10 g fennel seed (Foenicum vulgare)
1 star anise fruit, whole (Illicium verum)
20 g gentian root (Gentiana lutea)
10 g allspice fruit (Pimenta dioica)
40 g dried sloe fruit (Prunus spinosa)
15 g dried juniper cone (Juniperus communis)
5 g nutmeg seed (Myristica fragrans)
5 g cinnamon dried inner bark (Cinnamomum verum)


demon flower bitters

These 12 plants hail from Mexico and the Philippines to symbolize the deep cultural trade of medicinal and ritual plants rooted in the colonization from New Spain.

50 g Devil’s hand flowers (Chiranthodendron pentadactylon)
50 g pau d’arco bark (Tabebuia sp)
25 g hibiscus calyx (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
10 g sambong leaf (Blumea balsamifera)
20 g dried uchuva fruit (Physalis peruviana)
5 g jasmine flowers (Jasminum sambac)
10 g chamomile flowers (Matricaria chamomilla)
10 g blue skullcap leaf (Scutellaria lateriflora)
1 g dong quai root (Angelica sinensis)
30 g cacao seeds (Theobroma cacao)
4 g blue pea flowers (Clitoria ternatea)
15 g linden flowers and leaves (Tilia cordata
2 g propolis extract