Giving the Gift of Homemade Bitters
When I prepared orange bitters on vacation with my friend Rachel last fall, she later turned her batch into gifts, each with a personalized label and food and cocktail recipes in each package. I’m sure the recipients were delighted by her charming and thoughtful presentation.
Bitters, a mix of botanicals – herbs, roots, spices, and fruits – distilled in a base alcohol, are a nice hostess or housewarming gift, or for any occasion really. In fact, this time of year is ideal to make a batch because you’re more likely to find the Seville oranges in the market, which are ideal for the infusion.
Rachel and I completed Part 1 of the project, which was to prep the fruit and create the infusion.
Then, 12 days later, in Part 2, we strained and steeped the mixture.
Whereas I strained my batch into two larger bottles with stoppers (purchased from Crate & Barrel Outlet) and left it at that…
Rachel wisely stretched her supply out by using 8, 1 oz. amber dropper bottles that she bought online from Specialty Bottle. A little does go a long way.
She chose an online label from the fabulous selection on the lia griffith website. Hers came from a fall series, but I also see many other seasonal labels on the site, as well as other fun printables.
On each card, Rachel included the following recipes:
2 oz. apple brandy, 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth, dash of orange bitters. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and serve.
Belle of Ellis Island
1/2 oz. brandy, 1 tsp. cointreau, 2 oz. dry vermouth, 2 dashes of orange bitters, 1/2 tsp. of superfine sugar. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist and serve.
Bitters and Scotch
One orange slice (thin disc, not wedge), muddled, covered with ice. Top with a highland scotch and dash of orange bitters.
As for food recipes, she added this message in her gifts:
… add bitters to stews, soups, marinades, and curries. The bitters are potent, but the mix of sweet cinnamon notes and herbal flavors is fantastic when they’re treated as aromatics, enhancing other flavors and adding depth to slow-cooked dishes.
… use bitters in dessert too. As in many cocktails, sugar softens any acrid flavors of the bitters. Spike meringue or add dashes of bitters to pie fillings or add a few drops to ice cream.
Do you stock your bar with bitters, orange or otherwise?