I don’t have to tell you that New York City has a reputation for debauchery. People are also fond of saying that you can find anything you want in NYC, particularly when it comes to obscure ingredients. So imagine my surprise when I set out to make homemade bitters for the first time and learned that Everclear—the preferred high-proof alcohol for infusing and drinking out of coolers at house parties—is illegal in New York.
I forged ahead and, as I promised last week, here’s the report on my bitters experiment. I used this recipe as a guide and because I couldn’t get my hands on any Everclear, I used vodka. (After chatting with Sarah for the podcast, I learned that the preferred brand of vodka for the Everclear-less is the high proof Devil Springs.)
There are some fairly labor intensive bitters recipes out there, but this one is dead simple so it’s a great place to start. It’s also particularly timely since it makes use of citrus peels and citrus is now at its peak.
I chopped up the peel of one organic grapefruit (with the pith on), added one tablespoon of juniper berries, put it all in a quart jar, covered it with vodka (it took about 1 1/2 cups), and let it infuse for a week. When it’s ready to drink, pour it through a fine mesh strainer, then through a coffee filter.
The resulting bitters were simple, pleasingly bitter, and begging to be mixed with gin. I obliged. The cocktail I made to honor my inaugural batch of bitters is The January Morning.
The January Morning
- 1 1/2 oz Henrick's Gin
- 3/4 oz Grapefruit Juniper bitters
- 3/4 oz Art in the Age Rhuby
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
- Shake until chilled and well-combined. Strain into a martini glass and serve.
- I just love Art in the Age products and especially Rhuby, their spicy little rhubarb spirit. More info on it here.
- There’s some great information, including a recipe, on bitters experiments from The Peche.
- There’s also plenty of bitters recipes over at Punk Domestics.