So you probably already know Post Prohibition is all about handcrafted libations. We are currently in the process of making custom bitters, taking the craft of the cocktail to the next level. We started with a basic orange bitters recipe from The Joy of Mixology by Gary Regan.
You might ask, “What are bitters?” Bitters are cocktail seasoning, like salt for a soup. Back in the 1800’s, bitters where used for medicinal purposes. They were a potion of healthy herbs and botanicals. To some degree this is true. Try drinking ginger ale and Angostura Bitters when you have an upset stomach. It helps. Although, I’m sure back then it was a great excuse for pops to get a little tipsy while he took his “so called” medicine.
The first two cocktails, the Sazerac and the Old fashioned, were made with bitters. In fact the word cocktail used to mean a drink with any spirit, bitters, sugar and water. Bitters are bitter. However, when you add just a few drops to a cocktail they’re not going to make your cocktail bitter, so don’t be afraid. Bitters can really pull certain flavor profiles out of your cocktail recipe and bring a whole new complexity. Try a Manhattan without bitters, then add the bitters and you will see a world of difference.
Regan’s Orange Bitters Recipe No. 5
Allow four weeks to prepare this bitters recipe.
- 8oz Dried Orange Peel, Chopped Very Fine
- 1 Teaspoon Cardamom Seeds (taken out of their pods)
- 1/2 Teaspoon Caraway Seeds
- 1 Teaspoon Coriander Seeds
- 1 Teaspoon Quassia Chips
- 1/2 Teaspoon Powdered Cinchona Bark
- 1/4 Teaspoon Gentian
- 2 Cups Grain Alcohol
- 4 1/2 Cups Water, Divided Into 1/2 Cup, 3 1/2 Cups, and 1/2 Cup
- 1 Cup Granulated Sugar
Place the peel, cardamom seeds, caraway seeds, coriander seeds, quassia, cinchona bark, gentian, grain alcohol, and 1/2 cup water into a half-gallon mason jar and push the ingredients down so that they are covered by the alcohol and water. Seal the jar.
We dehydrated our own orange peels, it took about 30 oranges, but the freshness is outstanding. Make sure you remove all the white pith.
Shake the jar vigorously once a day for fourteen days.
Strain the alcohol from the dry ingredients through a cheesecloth. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth to form a pouch and squeeze tightly to extract as much alcohol as possible. Place the dry ingredients in a strong bowl or mortar; reserve the alcohol in a clean mason jar and seal tightly.
Muddle the dry ingredients with a pestle or strong spoon until the seeds are broken.
Place the dry ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan and cover with 3 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, cover, turn the heat down, and simmer for 10 minutes. Allow to cool, still covered (about 1 hour).
Return the dry ingredients and water to the original mason jar that contained the alcohol, seal, and leave for seven days, shaking vigorously once a day.
Strain the water from the dry ingredients through a cheesecloth. Discard the dry ingredients and add the water to the alcohol.
Put sugar in a small nonstick saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar becomes liquid and turns dark brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for two minutes.
Pour the sugar into the alcohol-and-water mixture. At this point the sugar may solidify, but it will quickly dissolve.
Allow the mixture to stand for seven days. Skim off any bits that float to the surface and carefully decant the clear liquid to separate it from any sediment resting on the bottom.
Measure the bitters; there should be about 12 fluid ounces. Add 6 ounces of water, and shake thoroughly. Pour the bitters into a bitters bottle. Store for up to twelve months.