How To Make Bitters

I’ve been asked many times, by many people about the “mystery” of making bitters, and today, finally, I am going to address this question.

Before we go into how to make bitters, let’s have a very brief discussion of what bitters are.

Bitters were originally used as medicine, curing pretty much every ailment under the sun but usually centered around issues with digestion (have you ever added Angostura bitters to soda or ginger ale to help settle your stomach? If you haven’t, give it a go; it works.) Unlike today, bitters were usually taken by themselves, and it wasn’t until the late 1700’s that people started adding them to spirits (in themselves a cure-all) giving birth to the cocktail (and cocktail bitters). Today, cocktail bitters are added to one’s tipple to introduce subtle new flavors and help integrate all of the components of the libation together, offering up a much more complex and interesting cocktail. Bitters while bitter tasting by themselves are usually only applied in small drops or dashes and will not make a cocktail itself bitter, a common misconception.

The first mystery of making bitters is quite simple: there is no mystery. It is a simple, but time consuming process involving macerating herbs and spices with alcohol and then filtering and bottling said maceration.

Looking through arcane tomes, and even the internet, one can find many recipes for bitters, and these are a good starting point for making your own, but almost every recipe that I have encountered has been flawed in one way, which I will reveal as we go on.

In theory, bitters are composed of three components: the bittering agent, the flavor and the solution. When making my own bitters I always keep this formula in mind. Let’s go through them.

This will be the ingredient that will make your bitters, well, bitter. Common ingredients are gentian, quassia or even wormwood (famous as an ingredient in absinthe). These flora are usually extremely bitter, and a little will go a long way.

This is where you have your chance to show off your creativity. Simple bitters will have one flavor, such as orange or peach or grapefruit. But the sky is the limit when it comes to bitters. Want to add vanilla-cardamom? Go for it! Lemongrass and ginger? Why not? Xocolatl Mole? Been done!

Obviously more ingredients will add more complexity to your bitters, just make sure that they play together and remember, sometimes simple one and two flavor bitters are better.

Most bitters are kept in alcohol, but you can make non-alcoholic bitters if you really wanted (they will have a very short shelf life). I usually try to find the highest proof alcohol I can get my hands on (50% ABV is best, don’t go over 60% ABV), as this seems to extract more flavor from my herbs and spices as well as give the final product an indefinite shelf life (alcohol is a preservative after all). For lighter bitters I may use a high-proof vodka or gin as my solution, while rum, whiskey and brandy are the spirits that I look to when creating heavier, darker bitters.

Now, if you read most bitter recipes you will see that they have you throw all of the ingredients in a jar and wait a period of time (anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months) after which you will filter and bottle your final product. Herein lay the problem with almost every bitters recipe I’ve read: control.

Different ingredients will release their respective flavors at different speeds and so to circumvent the probability of one ingredient’s flavor overpowering the batch, I give each flavor profile its own vessel. For example, if I were to do a batch of simple orange bitters, I would start with two jars of alcohol, one with gentian and the other with orange peel. After a period of one week I would strain out the gentian, and after three weeks I would strain out the orange peel. I would then slowly add the gentian mixture to the orange peel until the desired level of bitterness was reached. It is with this blending technique that I can ensure that I will never ruin a batch of bitters beyond repair, as an over powering flavors can be adjusted by increasing the other flavor components of the batch.

As for filtering, I am a lazy man. When I first started making my bitters, I used coffee filters, but as any of you who ever tried to do this knows, it is extremely time consuming and laborious. I then switched over to a Büchner funnel with a hand vacuum, but even this can be a little too much work for a slothful fellow of my nature. The solution? Water filters. You can just throw them in the top and come back a couple of hours later with a beautifully filtered finished product. Currently I am using a Pūr filtering system. Best money I’ve ever spent.

As most people who have tried my cherry bitters end up wanting a bottle for themselves, I’ve decided to give you the recipe, so you can make them at home yourselves (if you have the time and patience) and leave me the hell alone. (All I do is give and give…..)

12 oz dried tart cherries
1 oz milk thistle
4 oz lemon peel
1 tablespoon black walnut leaf
1 tablespoon bitter blend (rose petal, burdock, milk thistle, dandelion, apple, barberry, fennel, fringe tree)
1 tablespoon wormwood
2 teaspoons clove
4 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon allspice
2 teaspoons vanilla

Place 4 oz of cherries in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 101˚ bourbon
Repeat with the rest of the cherries (3 bottles in total)
Place the milk thistle and walnut leaf in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 100˚ rye
Place lemon peel in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 100˚ (or higher) vodka
Place bitter blend and wormwood in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 100˚ rye
Place the remaining ingredients in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 101˚ bourbon
Shake all ingredients daily

After one week strain out bitter blend bottle
After three weeks strain out all but cherry filled bottles
After four weeks strain out cherry filled bottles

Blend all liquids together to achieve desired flavor profile
Add 6 oz honey vodka (42 Below) (for added complexity)
Add 4 oz Amaro Nonino (for needed sweetness, texture and complexity. Caramelized sugar would also do)

Taste again and make adjustments if necessary (perhaps sugar if too bitter)
if one flavor is too subtle, take the leftover solids that have been filtered and add water and cook over heat to extract more flavor: add to mix until balanced

Filter the resulting bitters
Place bitters in shiraz-soaked French oak cask and age for two months
Extract bitters from barrel and filter again
Add two liters of water and stir

Depending on your cherries your finished product may or may not have enough cherry flavor. The first time I made my cherry bitters, this was the case. An easy fix that doesn’t entail you having to wait for more cherries to infuse would be to add a couple of ounces of Cherry Heering. Remember, there are no rules here, you are just trying to make a complex, flavorful bitters that will work in cocktails. How you get there is your business.

As the cherry bitters recipe is quite complex, I’ll give you the recipe to a brand of bitters that were probably more popular than even Angostura in Jerry Thomas’ day: Boker’s Bitters. (If you’re reading Jerry’s book and see a reference for Bogart’s bitters, they are actually one and the same. It’s a typo)

BOKER’S BITTERS (from Workshop Receipts, 1883)
1 ½ oz quassia
1 ½ oz calamus
1 ½ oz catechu (powdered)
1 oz cardamom
2 oz dried orange peel

Macerate for 10 days in 1 gallon strong whiskey, and then filter and add 2 gal. water.
Color with malva flowers.

UPDATE: After tasting an actual sample of the real deal (thanks Stephan) it came to my attention that the original Boker’s were sweeter with a definite coffee aftertaste. To this end I’ve decided to add 9 oz of Tia Maria (not Kahlua) to the batch in order make this replica more exacting.

Just remember my rules for separating the ingredients (the cardamom is especially strong in this and will probably be the first thing that I would strain out) and filtering and this is an easy one to make.

Also, the amount of water called for is to make aperitif bitters, we’re trying to make cocktail bitters, so let’s only add 12 oz of water.

Seeing as we don’t have the kind of whiskey as was called for in the 1800’s, I put the orange peel in vodka, the cardamom and catechu in 151˚ rum and the rest in 100˚ bourbon.

There you have it, you are now on your way to making an endless supply of bitters, limited by only your imagination and palate. Let me know how yours turned out, and if you have some extra, send it my way!

Pictures and Cherry Bitters recipe by:

Jamie Boudreau
Cocktail Whisperer


~ by Jamie Boudreau on April 22, 2008.

148 Responses to “How To Make Bitters”

  1. Brilliant post Jamie!
    I assume that there are still secret in your bitters which you didn’t revealed…
    But this is Ok, anyway you have to do the bitters after your own taste buds, haven’t you?

    Thank you very much for revelation of this Sangrail…

  2. Sweet Martin Van Buren’s glorious sideburns! Do you know how awesome you are? When I set about doing a (rather silly) bitters experiment I almost killed myself searching the web for information on just what the hell is a good way to make one’s own bitters. I finally got just enough advice from an acquaintance to feel like I had a shot at not failing miserably, but still I would have killed for something like this back then to know for sure I was on the right track.

  3. So, by my measurement, the second recipe would result in a full gallon of Boker’s. The first would result in a massive 7250 ml (just shy of 2 gallons) of delicious cherry bitters. I buy Angostura in 10oz bottles and it lasts about a year. Good thing bitters have a long shelf life!

    But seriously, would just cutting down the measurements while keeping the proportions result in approximately the same quality bitters, just less quantity? I suppose the other option is to make the full batch and spread the love, eh? 😉

  4. I’m having a bit of dificulty in finding any bitters, maybe I’ll do my own. I’ll just have to see if I’ll have better luck finding herbs.

  5. Boudreau; love your work, I am very curious, being quite the amateur, just how much of a noticeable effect do you get from using rye as opposed to say, using all bourbon in the cherry bitters. Oh, and thank you, this post will be saved for future reference, probably on the once though, 7 litres!

  6. great post jamie. you just made my life harder! anyway, shoot me an email, as i can’t seem to get yours to work right. that, or pop into union, preferably on a sunday, and bring your lovely lady…

  7. Great post, and right on time for a lot of people, I’m sure. My only quibble – I’m not sure I would call macerating the ingredients together a ‘flaw’ in other’s recipes. Why not adjust the contribution of different botanicals through the amount used, rather than time? If one component dominates the flavor too much, just use less of it. I guess this line of thinking ignores the possibility of over-extracting (like over-steeped tea becoming tannic). Your method does give more control when creating a recipe, but when following an established recipe (esp. one whose outcome I’ve never tasted) I tend to stick to what it says.

  8. I’ve had it in my mind for a while to try making some root beer bitters, and this might just be the kick in the pants I need to get started with that. I know Alembic down in SF has bitters of that description, but I’ve never tried them. Off to the lab (er, kitchen)!

  9. Keef:
    Sorry for the bulk quantities, but when I make a batch I usually have so many requests for bottles that even those huge quantities only last me 6 months! If you make smaller amounts I would probably (I’m just guessing as I haven’t actually tried this) use the same amount of solids but cut down on the liquids. This should cut your maceration time down considerably as the liquid has more solids ratio from which to extract flavor. In other words, something that took me a month might only take two weeks for you!

    Using different spirits in bitters just adds to the complexity of said bitters.

    I consider macerating everything in one jar a “flaw” for the following reasons:
    1) I find that my palate is substantially different from a lot of bitter and cocktail recipes and therefore always find myself tweaking prescribed measurements.
    2) One has no idea of the quality or specifics of ingredients from recipes that are over 100 years old. For instance, in my cherry recipe, when I say cinnamon, do you know if I mean Chinese or Ceylon? When I say wormwood, do I mean fresh or dried? Is the cardamom in the Boker’s the pod or seed? Is it toasted? So, you see that while a recipe can give you a very good idea of how to prepare a batch of bitters, it might very well be best to prepare each flavor profile in a separate container so as to ensure that you don’t spoil an entire batch with no chance of balancing out the final product in retrospect.

  10. Wish I had read this years ago – having botched batches of bitters in the past (though I attribute many of those to bad proportions or unfortunate ingredients). Sounds like a tincture method – wherein the final product is a blend of differing quantities, no?

    Oddly, the first post in my new blog is on a batch of bitters – though from this perspective I suppose it’s flawed ; ) Next time I make them I’ll have to try your method Mr. Boudreau – check it out as you like…

  11. This is a much better way to make bitters than i`ve used before, thanks!

  12. Awesome post! One comment regarding filtration: I would personally be just a bit concerned about the activated carbon in the Pur or Brita type systems robbing some of the flavor/complexity. After all, the goal of these systems is to produce flavorless water, not simply remove suspended particles.

    Another option — which I’ve been using for various filtration needs — is an AeroPress coffee maker ( This is basically a plastic cylinder with a filter at one end, and you use a plunger to force the liquid through the filter, leaving the solids behind. So you get the same level of filtration that a coffee filter provides, but you don’t have to wait forever and a day for the liquid to soak through the paper. The whole process takes around 30 seconds to a minute depending on the grain size of your solids (finer solids form a tighter filter bed)… And no activated carbon means that you get all of the spicy goodness you worked so hard to put into the liquor.

  13. Yo, Jamie.

    Great post. I’m doing a cranberry/rose petal in 190proof NGS and an absinthe bitters – so thanks for the working directions – they’ll help.


  14. […] Black Walnut Leaf, Birch Leaf and High Proof Rum (HPR). This is a modification of a recipe from Jamie Boudreau. We used equal portions of each and then filled with the […]

  15. […] after an e-mail exchange with Avery of Bittermens, Jamie’s article, and of course, Daniel and David’s Bitters Class, I decided to take another stab at it.  The […]

  16. […] have been reverse engineered by new modern bartenders (such as Robert Hess and Abbotts bitters and Jamie Boudreau with Bokers) Angostura remains steeped in mystery, as it’s a secret recipe.  I did however make […]

  17. Perhaps a dumb question: how often are you re-using one Pür filter?

    • It depends upon what is being filtered and the volume. I can usually filter liters of product before the filter dies. I also filter water in between flavours until the water runs clear to ensure that the filter is “clean”. You’ll know when the filter no longer works as the liquid won’t work its way through.

  18. Inspired by this post, I began making a batch of bitters this afternoon. I am working up a bittering agent, which is composed of cassia, wormwood, calmus and black walnut leaf (1 tbsp. of each) which is being macerated in one bottle of 100* rye… I’ll leave it in there for about ten days, shaking a few times a day. The flavoring agent is composed of toasted whole walnut (1 lb), cinnamon stick, whole nutmeg, and vanilla bean (1 of each) which is being macerated in one bottle of 100* bourbon. Thinking this will need to macerate for a bit longer (I am definitely testing it frequently to make sure.) Provided there is enough left after my tastings, I am planning on using about 25% of the bittering agent to the whole bottle of walnut bourbon for a “toasted walnut bitters.” At that point I’ll still have sufficient bittering agent leftover to make 3 more alternative flavors.

  19. […] Working on some recipes for homemade bitters that I hope to make some time […]

  20. […] on the tumultuous and heartbreaking journey of making homemade bitters. I used Jamie Boudreau’s Cherry Bitters recipe as a template, which is essentially a guide to making any type of bitters you can think of. By […]

  21. […] Boudreau has an excellent post I’ve used to develop the following outline for a bottomless bottle of bitters. The general idea […]

  22. […] Boker’s bitters (use Angostura if […]

  23. […] Working on some recipes for homemade bitters that I hope to make some time […]

  24. Any thoughts about how long to leave in fresh citrus peel? I’m getting quite a bit of flavor after just one day, but this is my first experiment with bitters.

  25. It all depends upon volume of the spirit and peel, or the ratio therein. When making bitters, it is almost impossible to leave citrus peel in too long. the worse case scenario is that you’ll get some bitter notes, which isn’t a bad thing when making bitters.

  26. In your recipe, you say lemon peel. Is this the whole peel or just zest? Great site, btw. Thanks

  27. Nulty:
    I used dried lemon peel that you can buy at any well-stocked health food store or apothecary.

  28. […] Bitters may require obscure herbs and spices, but Jamie Boudreau shows us the way. […]

  29. […] ½ oz bacon-infused bourbon ½ oz Cordial 4 dashes cherry bitters stir all ingredients with ice strain into a chilled cocktail glass Published […]

  30. Brilliant blog! I am so happy to have stumbled upon it!

  31. Wondering what type of solution you would suggest for non-alcoholic bitters. I have purchased a few brands that use a simple syrup base, and honestly it is way too sweet. Are there any liquids you would suggest?

  32. Jesse:
    I would not suggest making non-alcoholic bitters

  33. I’ve taken your advice and kept my mixtures of different spices etc. in separate bottles. One bottle of mine – a mixture of coriander, caraway, and fenugreek seems to have become fairly gassy. There’s a bit of froth sitting on top of the mixture after I’ve strained and filtered it. Should I be concerned? What would you suggest I do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks

  34. Andrew:
    If in doubt, chuck it out. If I had to guess, I’d say that you used some fresh botanicals. I prefer to use dried to ensure that I don’t get spoiled tinctures.

  35. The Catechu in the Boker’s: Is that Acacia or Areca Catechu?

  36. Ian: Acacia

  37. I am having a hell of a time filtering my bitters…
    Coffee filters don’t seem to work, as the fine sediment STILL gets through! I can’t believe that’s possible… the powdered Catechu is so fine it gets through a paper filter!?

    So I bought a nice Brita filter, and it clogged within one minute. Wow. I am at a loss.

    I also would be curious to know what you think of Adam’s comment above. Is a water filter really appropriate for straining solids? I would hate to lose any of the quality flavor we’ve worked to obtain, and yet I do want to filter out every last tiny particle suspended in the solution.


    • If using a coffee French Press (maybe this explains the original coffee flavor sought to replicate, perhaps), I might try adding a layer of paper/fabric filter over the plunger screen, before pushing down the glass beaker; for added filtration. Then, if you wish to pour it through some layered linen, or other filter again, there would be much less material to clog and slow the process.
      I, personally, would not consider using water filters, which I believe would filter out too many of the compound elements I seek from these herbs. As I’m sure others have expressed.

  38. […] in high proof alcohol, such as vodka, for several months. Jamie Boudreau has written quite the definitive explanation of bitters on his blog, and included homemade recipes as well as details of the classic flavor combinations to make […]

  39. Filter first through a fine mesh strainer to get out the majority of the solids. Then strain through cotton (a clean tshirt will do). Both should take all of 5 minutes. Finally use the filters, coffee or Britta. There should be no solids larger than a grain of sand when you use these filters.

  40. Excellent!
    Thank you, Jamie. I appreciate the advise.
    After much toil, I managed to filter my Boker’s and green tea bitters clean, and am moving on to blending.

    I’ll keep your advice in mind as I take on Gaz’s Orange recipe, as well as Lemon, Grapefruit, and Rootbeer.
    Thanks again!

  41. Where can I get my hands on a “shiraz-soaked French oak cask”?

  42. Bill:
    Buy a French oak cask from a local Do-It-yourself wine shop, fill it with Shiraz for a month, empty it and there ya go.

  43. Jamie:
    As regards your bitters blend, what ratio do you use the ingredients in? Also, forgive the potentially simple question, but for the apple, dandelion, fennel, burdock, etc., what particular part (or seed) of these plants is called for?

  44. Jon:
    The bitters blend was found at my local apothecary as such. I wouldn’t be able to answer your specifics. Any flavorful bitter blend will work here, as its purpose is merely to add some complexity and variation in bitterness.

  45. Hi Jamie…

    I have a to CONGRATULATE you, this post is a really HUGE help to all barman across the world, that look for information about BITTERS. I search for information for about a 1 year or more, and this is the only place that I found it, and it’s a very complete information.

    Just need to ask you a thing, I’m looking to do an MADEIRA BITTERS (Madeira Wine) in order to do a bitter that looks like the WHISKEY BARREL AGED BITTERS from FEE BROTHERS, but I’m not sure if I should fill a cask with Madeira Wine as you suggest for the SHIRAZ-SOAKED FRENCH OAK CASK, and then in a month empty it and place the bitters to absorv the characteristics from the wine, or should I use a little bit of Madeira Wine in the recipe?

    I’ll wait for your answer, before screw up all recipe…

    By the way, I’m using 96º GL (192 Proof) pure alcool that i bought in the pharmacy, instead of vodka, and I’ll dilute it with water, after macerating the ingredients for a while. What you thing about this technic?

    Thank you for your dispended time.

  46. Luis:
    Dilute the vodka before infusing or you may get louching. Around 50% ABV is best.
    If you use wine in the recipe it will oxidize and change the bitters over time. Best to soak the barrel.
    Thanks for reading

  47. […] bitters were bottled, I set about making a new batch, this time from a recipe I found at  This recipe is easy to make, but does involve several steps more than the first bitters I made […]

  48. I like the idea of steeping all of the items separately, then combining them at the end, but do you have any guidelines about how long to steep the specific items, or ways to figure that out? I’m sure I can figure it out over time with trial and error but if someone already has, that’s all the better.

  49. Mike:
    This has been addressed in the comments section, but long story short every ingredient has its own steeping time. Go by taste.
    Good luck!

  50. Can you tell me how to make habanero bitters? Do i just combine habanero sauce and bitters or do i start from scratch. thks for your help

  51. Bruce:
    I have not made habanero bitters so I’m afraid that I can’t be of assistance.

  52. […] but well worth it). It is actually easier than you might think. Here is an excellent recipe for Cherry Bitters or for a super simple Bitters recipe, try this courtesy of Art of Drink. This is one I will be […]

  53. This is wonderful. I’ll be making a batch once I gather all the ingredients. So a few questions on the ingredient list in regards to form. . .

    Milk Thistle – do you just use the whole seeds?
    Lemon Peel – I see you used dried. Do you know if it makes a difference to use a fresh peel?
    Walnut Leaf – crushed or whole? (probably doesn’t matter, huh? easier to strain if whole)
    Bitter Blend – is this a loose tea consistency?

  54. I recently made Rhubarb Bitters to recreate a drink I had at Minetta Tavern in NYC, Rhubarb Sophie. I infused the bitters in Vodka. How should I store it?

  55. I FINALLY found dried orange peel, but it was in almost a powder form. I was expecting strips of it. Anyone know if I need to keep looking?

  56. […] homemade bitters and treated everyone to seriously witchy Old-Fashioneds all night. guided by Jamie Boudreau’s recipe (minus the cherries, cask-aging, or actually in any way following the directions), the basic […]

  57. Where can I buy the obscure ingredients you’ve mentioned? Does Bitter Blend come prepared, or do you mix it yourself? Where might I find acacia, wormwood, quassia, calamus, and catechu (powdered)? I’m in the SF bay area. What are the common names of these herbs and spices?

  58. Monsieur Boudreau !

    Thanks for this article. Very interesting and generous from you to share your ideas.
    I am gathering ingredients at the moment, and I am living in a country where wormwood and some other ingredients of your bitter blend can’t be bought anymore (yup… worwood, absinthe, France…).
    Actually, that’s the case of Europe now since April.

    So my question is :
    I have no idea how test or smell raw or dried wormwood.
    I thought about changing wormwood and your bitter blend by the same amount of gentiane roots (as it is a bitter agent). What do you think about it?

    Merci bien !

  59. Louis:
    By all means experiment! This is cooking, not baking, and there is lots of room for experimentation and fixing.
    If it tastes good then it worked!

  60. amazing post i am attempting my first batch for a cocktail right now . thank u for sharing all the info, this will help me very much thanks again

  61. This is a great blog, and great article. Excellent breakdown. Your expertise, and humility are a pleasant combination, and thank you very much for the recipe. I am going to give it a go.

  62. […] I headed over to good ole’ Google to learn more about “bitters.” I happened upon a very detailed blog post about the varied techniques of making your own bitters, by Jamie Boudreau. He recommends steeping the aromatics separately and then mixing the tinctures […]

  63. hi there,
    i used your techniques to make a worm-warm wood bitters with yet some odd ingredients to the history of this bitters,it was for a competition and i wanted to send you a sample to tell me what do you think about it .
    can we send it to Cannon’s adress ?


  64. Are there any things unsafe to do this with? I want to experiment with cedar wood chips from the health food store, but I’m afraid that the alcohol would leach something toxic. Would this increase the methanol content? Would there be any common herbs that mix badly with ethanol? I’m all for experimenting with my tongue, but not the rest of me. Thanks!

  65. Reblogged this on Habitual Rituals.

  66. […] there now, there really is no need.” (However, if you do want to make your own you can check out Boudreau’s instructions.)The burgeoning craft cocktail scene often likens individual cocktails to gastronomic plates of […]

  67. […] Jamie’s Amer Picon Clone.  Today, I’ll talk about my experience with Jamie’s Cherry Bitters recipe (wow).  I started down this path in early January and followed the recipe pretty much measure for […]

  68. What is “bitter blend” is this something I have to put together myself or is there a specific place or company that makes it? Google isn’t giving me a very specific result.

  69. When this post was written, six years ago, bitter blend was something that was found in several apothecaries. Generally it is something to make the bitters more complex, and if your local herb store can’t create one, it’s fine to just leave it out.

  70. […] Most of the recipes include spirits that are readily available in liquor stores and produce from your standard grocery store (or even better, local farmers’ market). In some cases, specialty ingredients are called for, like flavoured bitters. Fee Brothers is a popular brand with a wide assortment of flavours to enhance traditional cocktails or to create your own masterpiece. The more adventurous home-based foodie can even make homemade bitters. […]

  71. I was wondering if anyone had a version of the mole bitters they’ve had success with? I’m dyin to find a version of th Bitterman’s recipe. Thanks!

  72. when you say burdock, barberry, apple, what specifically are you referring to?

  73. Oak barrels are expensive and completely unnecessary if you’re going for flavor alone. Some winemakers are using oak chips, which are available by the ounce in supply stores. So you spend $2.50 instead of $50 or more.

  74. […] bok om det fast den inte har kommit ännu. Istället  har jag framförallt  låtit mig ledas av Jaime Boudreau. I en bloggpost från 2008 förklarar han enkelt och bra hur han […]

  75. As always, outstanding! Thank you Jamie!

  76. […] the most challenging. There are plenty of DIY bitters recipes on the web, and some even reference recipes from the early days of bitters, but none are really the level of DIY-friendly that I was looking […]

  77. Hi just wondering about the milk thistle and black walnut leaf referenced in your Cherry Bitters recipe – are these extracts you are using or the actual seed of milk thistle and leaf of walnut? Thanks –

  78. Sheila: actual seed and leaf

  79. I am trying to make something like sanbitter, the bitter red aperitif soda. Any ideas?

  80. I’ve made my own bitters as well. Here are some recipes:

  81. Just finished making a batch of Brad Parsons House bitters, and it wound up as almost a jelly. Clearly not ideal. Anyone ever have this problem before? Any suggested solvent / solution. Maybe it’ll be good on toast…

    Tincture-based recipes from now on.

  82. […] along with Drink Dogma’s: How to make your own bitters and Spirits and Cocktails’: How to make bitters I came up with the below […]

  83. Skipper: the jelly formation could be caused by too much pith – did you zest any citrus yourself or use dried citrus peel? By zesting yourself you can drastically reduce the amount of pith. To salvage the jelly, try placing it in a pan and slowly raising the temperature of it. Be very careful if it’s a gas stove as your mix is probably highly flammable. Let me know if any of that helps!

    • Hiya Jason, thanks for the input. I ended up shaking the daylights out of my “batch gone bad”, and setting it near the woodstove. It hasn’t reverted back to jelly since then. I used both dried and fresh citrus peel in that recipe, and tried to be really careful not to have too much pith in the fresh stuff. It seems to be (at least) useable now. Made a pretty superb Pegu Club with it the other night. Again, I appreciate the encouragement. Cheers!

  84. I really want to bookmark this blog, “How To Make Bitters SpiritsAndCocktails.
    com” on my very own web page. Will you care in the event that I personallydo?
    Thanks -Lily

  85. […] me characteristically fired up for more concocting: perhaps trying out a Damiana Liqueur, or my own bitters as I find them indispensable. As I’ve yet to find the country estate I clearly misplaced, and […]

  86. I have been working through the Cherry Bitters recipe since just after the Christmas Holiday. I am at the stage to blend but not sure if I should assume blending to be based on the same ration of the liquid quantities of each separately steeped “flavor”. It seems to make sense but was curious Jamie if you suggest blending initially by the ration the recipe presents or just simply go on taste. Appreciate your comments on blending approach…thanks …I have tried to get into your restaurant twice in the past couple of weeks, no luck! Congratulations on an obvious success in Seattle!

  87. Gary: go by taste. it’s the only way to do it.
    Sorry you’ve had difficulty getting in. Come before 7:00 any day but Fri/Sat and it shouldn’t be an issue.

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  89. Everything but the catechu was able to be found at Penn Herb in Philadelphia. They’re one of the few places that has cinchona (for homemade tonic). The catechu I found by looking under the Indian name of katha – [from Wiki] Kattha (catechu), an extract of its heartwood, is used as an ingredient to give red color and typical flavor to paan.

  90. I ran into the “jelly” issue with making Regan’s Orange Bitters #5. My WHOLE BATCH turned into “orange bitters jelly” (

    I used dried peel and did a superb job extracting the pectin from the pith!

    I tried heating and it stayed liquid as long as it was “warm” (in a pot on a gas stove with a pilot light). Chowhound suggested I add pectic enzyme (used in beer/wine making) to cause the pectin to “stop working”. I’ll give that a try and let you know.

    By the way, yes this is VERY flammable. Cold, in solid form, it wasn’t a problem. I went to re-heat it (it was still hot) and WHOMP! I had a lovely orange bitters flambe. Wish I had a camera handy LOL (but I did have a tight fitting lid).

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  92. I’m excited to try these recipes. Can you recommend a on line source to buy some of these harder to find items.Also is botulism a concern?
    Thanks again

    • Melissa – I get just about all my herbs and spices from Penn Herb ( The catechu I got from an Indian market (katha – an ingredient in paan. comes in a tin and is powdered).

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  94. Dear Jamie,
    Thanks so much for sharing the knowledge. This 2008 information stream is alive, excellent!
    I am looking forward to experimenting and when the time comes we’ll send some samples your way with pleasure…
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  95. Hey Jaime,
    Great blog entry! I think that I’m going to start off by playing with some different tictures, and will perhaps use some of them for making bitters at a later date. I do appreciate your suggestion to infuse everything seperately. I was just wondering if all bitters contain sugar…or are some simply tinctures made with a variety of flavouring agents?

  96. Almost all good bitters contain some sort of sweetener as a vehicle to carry flavor and to balance out the bitters

  97. Thanks for such detailed instructions! Can you say why you don’t recommend higher than 60% ABV? Other folks recommend using highest possible, i.e. Everclear (95%), but you seem to know what you’re talking about 🙂

  98. am:
    If you use everclear certain ingredients will louche.

  99. Thanks! And…why would you not go above 60%abv? I have a bottle of Everclear it would be great to use

  100. […] read: How To Make Bitters. In case there’s a dearth of Pumpkin Spice Bitters in your life, or […]

  101. What do you use in place of alcohol if you need to make a non alcoholic bitters?

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  103. […] pulled tons of information, hours of research, adaptions and help from these places: spirits+cocktails, serious eats, not without salt, food & wine and from scratch […]

  104. Is there any chance you have a complete ingredients list that includes the booze, in addition to the bittering agents, available? Reading through the recipe is a little confusing, and an ingredients list would help tremendously. Email me maybe? Pease?

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  106. What’s your recommendation for ‘tasting’ bitters to see if they are right? Do you mix them in something neutral, or taste them alone?

    Given that you suggest preparing the flavors separately, why not just keep them all separate?

  107. […] simple solution, provided by Jamie Boudreau, is to use different containers for the different ingredients. When doing so, you can sample each […]

  108. This is nicely expressed. !

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  110. […] can find excellent instructions in the previously mentioned Bitters: A Spirited History; in this blog post by Jamie Boudreau from Spirits and Cocktails ; and in this step-by-step how-to from Dan Souza at America’s Test Kitchen . As you continue to […]

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  114. All these are very educative for anybody across the globe who loves to be an alcoholic bitters processor. Thanks for all these information.

  115. […] cl Simon’s Harvest Gin 1,5 cl Deutscher Single Malt z.B. Simon’s 3 cl Cocchi Americano 3 Dashes Jamie Boudreau’s Brokers Bitters Stir – strain – gefrorenes Cocktailglas; Garnitur: Apfelscheibe – Traube – […]

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  117. How’s it going thanks for the recipes man their grade A, I want ta make my own blend for whiskey cocktails using savron I’m just stuck as to what to add with and wondered if you have any recommendations….

  118. […] it was still fairly uncommon in 2010 to see bars and restaurants making their own bitters. Cocktail bloggers and tinkerers had certainly been toying with DIY bitters for a while, but the trend hadn’t […]

  119. Where does one find the ingredients to make these wonderful flavors?

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  122. Hey there!
    So I just finished making a batch of bitters for my restaurant (one lemon and one cardamom) before reading your article. Flavors came out excellent but after dilution both batches louched. I was wondering if you had encountered that before. The only commonality between the two batches were gentian, as the bittering agent, and small amounts of jasmine. Also I did a very crude and quick strain as opposed to filtering. Is that the issue?

    • Tyler – was star anise in one batch and cardamom in the other? These are most likely your clouding culprits…

  123. Absolutely fantastic

  124. […] How To Make Bitters | – Apr 22, 2008  · 131 Responses to “How To Make Bitters” Brilliant post Jamie! I assume that there are still secret in your bitters which you didn’t revealed… […]

  125. […] How To Make Bitters | – Apr 22, 2008  · 131 Responses to “How To Make Bitters” Brilliant post Jamie! I assume that there are still secret in your bitters which you didn’t revealed… […]

  126. […] How To Make Bitters | – Apr 22, 2008  · 131 Responses to “How To Make Bitters” Brilliant post Jamie! I assume that there are still secret in your bitters which you didn’t revealed… […]

  127. Thankyou very much. Has always intrigued me as to the ingredients. Love bitters. Recently came across an Aussie brand, Australian Bitters Company Aromatic Bitters. Very nice. Did not kniw anything about the various recipes until I started to look into bitters in general online. Your page is really informative. Dying to try your cherry recipe. Might need to start reserving bottles and the shiraz soaked oak cask might present a problem but I can try the second recipe in the meantime no problem. Thumbs up from me.

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  131. Hey. So you mentioned that one could make a nonalcoholic bitters, what would I use for the solution instead of high proof alcohol?

  132. If you’re trying to impart an oak flavor to the bitters, you would likely want to use American Oak, which always affects a wine much more than French Oak does. Was there a different reason to use French Oak? Thanks.

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  134. […] cl Simon’s Harvest Gin 1,5 cl Deutscher Single Malt z.B. Simon’s 3 cl Cocchi Americano 3 Dashes Jamie Boudreau’s Brokers Bitters Stir – strain – gefrorenes Cocktailglas; Garnitur: Apfelscheibe – Traube – […]

  135. […] it was still fairly uncommon in 2010 to see bars and restaurants making their own bitters. Cocktail bloggers and tinkerers had certainly been toying with DIY bitters for a while, but the trend hadn’t […]

  136. How does the pur filter work? It filters using some sort of “filler” right? Wouldn’t that affect the bitters composition?

  137. Why are my walnut bitters cloudy? How can I fix this?

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