Homemade Bitters

2.6.2007

By Out.com Editors

Dr. Schwartz's Cherry Vanilla Bitters
From The Art of the Bar: Cocktails Inspired by the Classics (Chronicle Books) by Jeff Hollinger and Rob Schwartz

2 tsp quassia
2 tsp cardamom seeds
1 tsp anise seed
Pinch gentian
Pinch cassia
1 tsp grated ginger
3 cups 100-proof Rye, preferably Rittenhouse
1/2 cup Cherry Bark
5 vanilla beans
3 cups water

Instructions:
1. Toast quassia, cardamom, anise, gentian, and cassia in a dry frying pan over medium heat for a few minutes until fragrant.
2. Cool and transfer to a sterile Mason jar. Add the ginger and rye, screw on the cap, shake well, and store in a cool, dark place. Agitate once a day for one week.
3. Strain the mixture through cheesecloth and transfer to a clean jar.
4. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth to squeeze out as much liquid as possible.
5. Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and add them to the rye mixture along with the cherry bark.
6. Seal and store again, shaking once a day, for another two weeks.
7. Strain the rye through cheese cloth and transfer liquid to clean Mason jar (do not throw out the cherry and vanilla mash).
8. Cover and set aside for a couple of weeks. (No need to agitate.)
9. Take cherry-vanilla mash remaining in the jar and transfer to a medium saucepan.
10. Add the 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. While the mixture is simmering, smash the vanilla beans against the sides of the pot with a muddler or wooden spoon.
11. Cool completely and transfer to a clean jar. Store in a cool, dark place for another 2 weeks, agitating once daily.
12. Strain this mixture through several layers of cheesecloth as many times as is necessary to remove all sediment from the vanilla beans.
13. Finally, combine the liquid with the reserved rye mixture and transfer to an empty bitters bottle.

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