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How to make your own bitters?

One of the biggest trends in mixology today are the homemade product.

Mixology can be described as the art of creating cocktails. Mixologists develop their knowledge, creativity and practical skills in order to surprise the guest.

Homemade bitters

The process of making homemade bitters requires patience and research on the ingredients. The realization of bitters is based on the principle aroma’s extraction by alcohol. The stronger the alcohol, the more intense the extraction will be.

4 main ingredients

1. Strong neutral alcohol

Vodkas by their neutrality are naturally preferred in the production of bitters.

2. A bitter agent

You'll find this bitterness in gentian roots, quassia bark or cinchona bark.

3. Spices

Be creative by adding different spices like cardamom, clove, nutmeg, pepper, berries, cinnamon, vanilla...

4. Aromatic plants & dry fruits

Plants (anise, mint, artemisia…) and dehydrated fruits ( orange, lemon, grapefruit, apple…) will bring freshness to your bitters.

A 10 day process 

  1. Start your maceration by mixing the four ingredients in a glass container. Remember the less alcohol you use the more extraction you will get!
  2. Let the mixture macerate in a dry place, protected from light, for a minimum of five days.
  3. Stir the mixture every day - observing the color, smell and taste - watching the evolution, in order to stop the maceration at the right time.
  4. After five days, filter the liquid and reserve them. Keep the solids!
  5. Boil the solids with some water. At the boiling point, reduce the heat and keep on cooking it 5 -10 minutes.
  6. One more time, let the mixture macerate in a dry place, protected from light for five days.
  7. Filter the mixture and mix the two mixtures together ( concentrated water + the alcohol maceration)
  8. Add sugar syrup to sweeten your bitters. Careful not to affect the bitters taste!
  9. Fill up the dropper’s vials and enjoy it in cocktail or even with soda water!

Author: Louise Pascot, Lecturer Practical Arts at EHL

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