Bitters: Buy or Make Them? | Wine Enthusiast
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Bitters: Buy or Make Them?

From The Classic & Craft Cocktail Recipe Book, by Clair McLafferty

When it comes to bitters, should you DIY or buy? The short answer is both. In addition to classics like orange bitters and the spiced-cherry profile of Peychaud’s, splurge on fanciful flavors like celery, chocolate mole or “tiki spice” to add complexity to drinks.

But if you’re inclined to make your own, try this aromatic bitters recipe, which has an autumn-appropriate spiced profile similar to classic Angostura. It’s versatile enough to add to almost any drink. The following recipe makes a large batch, so consider giving a few bottles as gifts.


1 medium lemon
1 (750-ml) bottle overproof grain alcohol
½ teaspoon gentian extract
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 3-inch cinnamon stick
1 (1½-inch) piece fresh ginger, halved
4 whole allspice berries
4 whole cloves


Using vegetable peeler, zest lemon in strips, leaving white pith behind. In large sealable glass jar, combine zest and remaining ingredients. Seal and store at room temperature. Let steep for 2 weeks, shaking jar every 2 days. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth or a coffee filter into another large glass jar. Funnel into small bottles with droppers. Makes about 3 cups.