It’s a natural progression for most bartenders and home bar aficionado’s to want to make their own cocktail bitters at some point. Maybe because it’s pure love of the craft, maybe there is a certain flavour you can’t find on the market, or you want something exclusive to you or your bar. Either way there are a number of ways of going about making your own bitters at home and there is no real right or wrong way to do it, but certainly the easiest way to do it is by picking up a pre-packaged make your own bitters kit.
One of the advantages of using these kits is not having to track down all of the herbal and bittering agents yourself, which for many can be quite difficult. If you don’t have a local herb store in town your next option is usually the internet, and the quality there can be dubious at best. So for a varying investment you can try your hand using some of the following to get your feet wet in the world of bitters making.
This is one of the more detailed and complete kits on the market today from one of the leaders in the modern bitters renaissance. The Craft Your Own Bitters kit includes blends of herbs, bittering agents, dried fruit peels and all the essential tools like a strainer, dropper bottles, funnel, and more to craft your own home brew bitters.
This is by far the cheapest option of the four featured today, and contains everything you need to make Aromatic and Citrus Ginger bitters, including pre-measured botanicals, an infuser ball, a swing-top glass jar for steeping the botanicals in vodka, plus directions. In addition to all of this they also sell botanical refill packs if you want to continue testing and tweaking the recipes.
Dash Bitters Kits – $$
Dash Bitters offers three choices when it comes to your home made bitters adventure, 1889 [Aromatic] flavour, Cherry Walnut, and Orange Hop. These are a bit more imaginative flavours than the previous two and would make fun gifts for the cocktail enthusiast in your life who may not already have these flavors on hand. As usual everything you need is included in the box, tools, droppers, and dry ingredients.
Easy & Oskey [say that five times fast] offer up five different options for their kits, two classic flavors, Orange and Cherry Vanilla, two slightly more esoteric ones like Grapefruit and Habañero, and finally a Naked bitters that you can add your own botanicals, fruits, or herbs to. All sound lovely but for someone ready to take a swing at making their own flavor combo’s, the Naked one is a great option.
At the end of the day, the process for making bitters is the same; high proof alcohol, bittering agent, and a mixture of fruits, herbs, botanicals, and spices. When crafting your own bitters at home, think about the alcohol it will be mixing with and its flavor profile. Consider any mixing ingredients like vermouth, an aperitif, or liqueur and what flavours they have and may be lacking that you want to try and augment or enhance.
Cocktail bitters are a nearly unlimited landscape, use these pre-built kits to help start you on the next leg of your home mixology journey. Be sure to report back if you try any out and what your experience was in the comments below.