December 16, 2009

holiday cocktail craft

making bitters

last weekend,
grub & i
a cocktail craft party...

Cocktail Craft o’rama

we pooled
our resources
and tapped in
on grub's cocktail knowledge
to make
and special syrups.

you see,
making these things
can be labor intensive
(like pickling & canning)
many hands
make less work.
mostly it involves
a lot of prep work
which is fun
if you are working
all together
and sipping cocktails!

* * * * *

here's what we did...

we had 3 different
bitters available to make
and each person made
a combination of any
two bitters:


in addition,
we also made
2 special syrups
-Allspice liqueur

* * * * *


each person was asked to bring:

- Two oranges-preferably fragrant-smell them before you buy them. If they smell orangey, get’em. Valencia is the preferred kind, but fragrant is the best.

- One grapefruit-preferably fragrant. White is better than red, but any kind will do.

- four resealable jars (jam are great) that hold at least 1 cup but no more than 2 cups of liquid. (2 bitters, 2 special syrups)

- a $$$ donation (donation dependent on # of RSVPs) to help pay for everclear needed to extract the essences for the bitters and overproof rum for liquers.

* * * * *


cut the skin from oranges
and grapefruits


and carefully removed
all the white
from the peel...
we also had people
skinning and chopping ginger
and zesting limes
(for the falernum).


as we worked,
grub made
tiny cocktails
that featured
the bitters
or syrups
that we made.


Cocktails that were made:

-House Manhattan (featuring fig bitters):
see grub's special recipe card

the architects cocktail recipe
(click to enlarge)

-Royal Bermuda club (featuring falernum)

-Lions Tail (featuring allspice liquor)

-The Perforated Derby (featuring grapefruit bitters)


if made
a month before
the holidays,
bitters make great
decant into
a dropper bottle
and give with
your favorite
cocktail recipe.

if short on time,
give a bitters kit:
droppers, labels,
on the last few steps.


. . . . .

here is the recipe
for one of
our bitters:

Fig Bitters

Botanical infusion
2 oz dried figs, Chopped Very Fine
2 whole cloves
½ Teaspoon of Cinnamon Bark
1 Teaspoon Cardamom Seeds (taken out of their pods)
3 seeds Star Annise
3/4 Cup Grain Alcohol (Everclear or Other High-Proof Neutral Spirit)

Bittering elements
1/4 Teaspoon Quassia Chips
1/8 Teaspoon Powdered Cinchona Bark

1 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Evaporated Cane Sugar

To Make
(adapted from Regan’s Bitters No.5)

Day one (at cocktail craft party)
Clean skin of fruit with baking soda and warm water. Scrub off any dirt. Remove skin (minus white pithe). Finely chop skins into 1/4 thick strips. Bake peel until completely dry (about 2 hours at 200F) let cool. Next place “botanical infusion” in jar and push the ingredients down so that they are covered by the alcohol and water. Seal the jar. Shake the jar vigorously once a day for ten days.

Day Ten
Place “Bittering Elements” in jar. Seal the jar. Shake the jar vigorously once a day for 7 days.

Day Seventeen
Strain the alcohol from the dry ingredients through a cheescloth. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth to form a pouch and squeese 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 1 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.

Day Twenty-Four
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.

Day Thirty One
Measure the bitters; thee should be about 9 fluid ounces. Add 3 ounces of water, and shake thoroughly. Pour the bitters into a bitters bottle. Store for up to twelve months.

. . . . .

happy holidays!


lisa s said...

yum. yum. yum.

Kerstin Svendsen said...

oh fantastic! and fun sounding.

Katharine in Brussels said...

Wow, what a great idea, and thanks for putting so much effort into sharing via this post too.