Homemade Bitters is Tasteful Holiday Gift

Bitters is a combination of fruits, herbs and spices steeped in alcohol and used to add a finishing touch to cocktails and aperitifs. If you start with a few simple ingredients now, your homemade bitters will be ready to bottle and give as delicious gifts for the holidays.

Homemade Bitters blogIn the November issue of 5280 Magazine, there’s a Behind the Bar article¬† about some fine dining establishments in the Denver area that are mixing up their own house-made bitters.

At Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, the bar manager adds cardamon, orange peel, star anise and cloves to 90-proof whiskey for his take on a bitters concotion popular in the 19th Century.

You don’t have to be an expert mixologist to whip up your own creation. Homemade bitters are easy to make from common ingredients you might already have in the kitchen pantry.

Bitters is an essential ingredient in classic cocktails, like an Old-Fashioned or Manhattan, but the blend is also used in drinks like the Bloody Molly, Monkey Wrench and Skip Run and Go Naked.

The batch of bitters I made for John last holiday season was a big hit and came in handy when we decided to make Champagne Cocktails on New Year’s Eve.

The ingredients I used for my bitters included the peel from an entire grapefruit, the leaves of an artichoke, a small handful of juniper berries, a few cardamon pods, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and a few whole cloves.

I combined the ingredients, placed them in a jar, poured in 2 cups of inexpensive vodka and let the mixture steep and the flavors mingle for just over 3 weeks. It made one pint.

You can experiment with your own favorite herbs and spices or simply substitute orange peel for the grapefruit to create your own special brand.

When the mixture has steeped to a deep color and smells fragrant, bottle in something fancy and add a nice gift tag.

If you want to include some recipes to go along with your gift, there are recipes for 217 different drinks using bitters as an ingredient at BarNoneDrinks.com.



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Thank you so much for the information!! I don’t drink much at all and am quite inexperienced and unknowledgeable in the field but wish to give a meaningful gift to my brother-in-law. I am very much into making my own tinctures and herbal medicinal remedies, so making bitters and using them to make something taste good and exciting is fascinating for me. This is great!! Thank you thank you!

Hi Stancy:

How did your gift turn out? I hope your brother-in-law liked the bitters you made. I made a batch as a gift this year, too, and the bottle was very well received!

One of my favorite ways to use bitters is to add a jigger to a glass filled with ice, sparkling water and a big squeeze of fresh lime. We call the drink “jumper cable” because it’s so refreshing and makes a good digestive aid, too.

Thanks for posting your comment,

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