Making bitters is no more difficult than many of the concoctions bartenders have been known to whip up from scratch, like marmalade, orgeat and tonic. Much of the process consists of waiting while the ingredients steep in high-proof liquor.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
Two 1-quart Jars
High-proof spirit (typically vodka or whiskey)
Roots, herbs, spices and other flavorings
Some examples of those used traditionally in bitters:
Black Walnut Leaf
Cassia (cinnamon like bark)
STEP 1: STEEPING
Combine all the spices, roots, barks and other flavorings to a jar and add in the high-proof spirit.
Let this for about two weeks and will need to be shaken daily to ensure the flavors infuse properly and evenly.
STEP 2: STRAIN & COOK
Strain the spirit into a clean jar using cheesecloth, then seal.
Heat solids on the stove with water and then put that entire mixture (water and vodka-soaked ingredients) into a separate jar.
Let that sit for one week.
STEP 3: COMBINE & SWEETEN
Strain out the solids, discard and combine the infused vodka with the water. If the liquid is still murky, strain it again through cheesecloth. (sediment may remain.) The last step is to add a bit of sweetener, if needed, to make the mixture more palatable, as it will be incredibly bitter. Depending on the flavor of the bitters, use a rich simple syrup (two parts turbinado sugar to one part water), honey, molasses or maple syrup. Once added, shake it until the sweetener is fully dissolved and let it sit for another three days.
One-, two- and four-ounce dropper bottles can also be easily found on Amazon or at medical supply stores. And, if you want to get really fancy, Cocktail Kingdom has various pro-style bottles that give the perfect dash of aroma to drinks.
As for labeling the bitters, some prefer the super-homemade approach, but for those who would rather have a more polished final product, makeityourown.com offers a nice free down loadable template and Vistaprint sells customizable labels in all colors and sizes.