Grapefruit Bitters with Juniper

by autumn on January 16, 2012

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

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 oz Henrick's Gin
  • 3/4 oz Grapefruit Juniper bitters
  • 3/4 oz Art in the Age Rhuby
  • 1 teaspoon honey

Cooking Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake until chilled and well-combined. Strain into a martini glass and serve.

Notes:

  • 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.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 tamika February 2, 2012 at 1:07 am

Hi there! Everclear is now available in NY state, you need to order it from your liquor store, they are not supposed to carry it on the shelves. I make bottles and bottles of Limoncello with it (knock your socks and other garments off strong!) I also use it to make my own vanilla extract. It’s worth ordering a couple of bottles (or buy in NJ, next time you’re across the river :-) )
I am going to make your bitters. I have discovered an amazing cocktail; Oaxacan Old Fashioned, and need good bitters for it .
Cheers!

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2 autumn February 2, 2012 at 11:35 am

Hey! Good to know. Thank you. We actually had a pretty good liquor store in our neighborhood, so maybe I’ll ask them about it.

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