May
08
2013

An Enthusiasts guide to DIY bitters: vol. 1, part 2

—Christian

Three weeks passed and it’s time for step three! First I strained the liquid out through cheesecloth. This initial infusion is very strong on the tongue. There are strong overtones of cardamom with definite notes of clove and citrus (ed. note: the Imbibe recipe calls for coriander, but the author was not 100% sober when he put everything together. Some mistakes may have been made). There is also a big punch of bitter: sour/tart from the dandelion root and deep from the gentian. The wormwood appears to provide a smoothness, like tea. The mint is subtle, at best, although there is a slight menthol effect present. Ginger appears to have been omitted (see note above). Read more »


Apr
17
2013

An Enthusiasts guide to DIY bitters: vol. 1, part 1

—Christian

I’ve thought about making bitters for a while now. So I was quite excited when the Jan/Feb issue of Imbibe magazine (thanks, Amy & Phil!) included a recipe for grapefruit bitters. I’d already been toying with gentian flavors in the form of Salers Gentaine aperitif and really want to understand the potential of bittering agents better. What better a way than to directly work with them myself?

The fundamentals of bitters are essentially the same. Combine bitter things with herbs, spices and other flavorful components in high-proof alcohol and let them sit for a period of time. These bitter things tend to be the roots of flowers, with the gentian root being perhaps the most recognizable (think of the bitterness in Campari, Angostura and Fernet). Salers is a bottling of just that flavor cut with a little sugar, and will give you the full depth of flavor the root has to offer. The recipe (below) also calls for dandelion root, wormwood and whole coriander—among other things, so I headed over to Rainbow Grocery, the SF goldmine for random stuff in jars, to stock up. Read more »