by | Jun 24, 2009 | Food, Julie | 14 comments

Dave’s birthday is in January. So if I think of a good gift for him in late Spring, I’ve either got to wait 7 months, or come up with some other occasion. And so it was that I decided to make Dave bitters for Father’s Day. He’s not my father, and giving an alcoholic accessory for Father’s Day is either wildly inappropriate or maybe incredibly on target.

At any rate, I saw an article in Craft about making your own bitters, and I was inspired, and so I did. The process involved mixing a bunch of herbs in jars and shaking them gently once a day for a month. It also involved me hiding everything, including a bottle of vodka, under the bed, so that if Dave happened upon any of this I’m sure he’d think I was an alcoholic (or a secret mad herbalist, considering what the bitters-in-process looked like).

But in the end, the cherry bitters and orange bitters I made were pretty good. They smelled great. They were very, very bitter (thanks to the gentian root in there, which is also in Moxie). Bitters are supposed to be good for settling your stomach when mixed in seltzer, and I think they’re in a Manhattan. We haven’t actually tried them in a drink yet. But Dave seemed to appreciate them, and it was fun doing something completely non-kid.

Vodka and herbs in a jar, after marinating for a month.

The cherries were all plumped up. This doesn't look especially appetizing.

Here they are in their little jars.


  1. Sarah

    Sazerac! You have to make sazeracs!

  2. Julie

    I’m going to make them just because it’s fun to say. Off to see what a sazerac is…

  3. Sarah

    The official drink of New Orleans.

  4. Elizabeth

    Love the packaging! You can make champagne cocktails, too! Very Holly Golightly.

  5. Robyn

    Ah, glad the sazerac is getting good play! Bitters are also fabulous BEFORE a meal you know will be trouble…10pm pizza and the like for us geezers. My herbalist hat is off to you, Ju. Tell me when you’re ready for Neutralizing Cordial: minty goodness for stomach upsets of all ages.

  6. Julie

    The sazerac recipe I found has absinthe in it. Are you all really keeping absinthe in your liquor cabinets? But I guess if Elizabeth thinks I’ve got champagne around…

    Robyn, I want to know about the Neutralizing Cordial!

  7. Robyn

    It’s been a long time since I made absinthe, and it wasn’t too tasty. Better than the stuff I was served at parties, though.

    Will dig up the n.c. recipe…between our coasts, we should be able to source everything!

  8. Julie

    You’d think that, but I had to order the gentian from Humboldt, California.

  9. Sarah

    Neutralizing cordial? Isn’t that was Mis Piggle-Wiglle gave you for sassing back?
    Julie, I think I have a couple of bottles of beer in the back of my fridge and half a bottle of red wine. I am far from stocking absinthe.

  10. Julie

    Yes, that’s why I need neutralizing cordial. To beat back the sassers.

  11. Robyn

    Okay. I find my recipe today. If my memory serves (and sometimes it just lobs), it’s different enough from what I’ve cobbled online to make it worthwhile. And hurray! sourcing the weird stuff has become much easier since I hung up my percolator. Sassers, prepare to be beat back.

  12. Julie

    Smiling hugely. Robyn manages to distill not only herbs, but the essence of herself, in two small lines. Miss you!

  13. Robyn

    Poo. Now I’m teary. Miss you, too. Damn continent.

  14. Julie

    Maybe we should just meet up in Kansas.


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