New Project: Making Bitters


Our friend Emily Ho over at The Kitchn recently posted a good set of instructions on how to make homemade bitters. Bitters are made up of various aromatic substances tinctured in alcohol. These flavorings can be used to concoct fancy artisanal cocktails. True bitters are made with sharp, bitter herbs, like wormwood and dandelion–their original purpose was to stimulate digestion, and you’ll find them used often in appertifs. But the definition has widened to include all sorts of aromatic flavors, from resinous flavors, like pine, to sweet, mellow flavors like vanilla, to floral notes, like lavender.

Personally, I’m interested in creating an arsenal of interesting flavors to create sophisticated, adult-palette mocktails by using homemade bitters to add interesting flavor notes to drinks created with fruit juices, homemade syrups, teas and soda water. My first set, a few of which are in the photo above, are currently steeping. In future posts I’ll share the recipes I develop as I follow this path.

In the meanwhile, making your own bitters is really easy.¬†You may be able to throw a few experiments together just using things you find in your spice cabinet. Since these are flavoring, not medicine, you don’t have to be as careful with the quantities and timing as you must be when tincturing herbs for medicine. Yet at the same time, it’s a great introduction to that essential herbalist’s craft. Read her post, and have fun!

How to Make Homemade Bitters: Cooking Lessons from The Kitchn.

Leave a comment


  1. Mrs. H…….is it possible to cram my heart into a little bottle? I’ve tried steeping it in alcohol before to amazing short term effect but little long term tastiness.

    Your help is appreciated.

    • When one doesn’t wish to tincture in alcohol, the traditional alternatives are vinegar and glycerine. Vinegar will make your heart sharp, and glycerine will make it sweet and rather sticky. Both have their appeal. And you need not use your whole heart– a slice will be sufficient.

  2. Ahh that’s good to know. I usually try to stuff my whole heart into those little bottles whether it seems like it’ll fit or not. I’ve used glycerine in my heart tinctures before but I think it was the Nitro kind.

    Keep on with the helpful information.

  3. This sounds like a fun project…. I’d like to try to make some lovage bitters… I just love the aroma and flavor of it and it would be wonderful to enjoy it year-round!

  4. I’m looking forward to your mock cocktails. Maybe the bitters will help make them feel just a little naughty, which is a requirement for me.

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