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


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 »