Hi, Friends of Cocktails! I recently mentioned using a homemade mix of bitters to make the Perfect Martini. These combine Spruce Tip, Lemon, Grapefruit and Orange Bitters, and I’ve gotten a few messages asking about how they’re made, but as it’s getting colder, I felt there was a need for more festive flavors. That’s why today I wanted to show you how to make some of my favorite bitters: Allspice Bitters (also known as pimento bitters) - these have a rich, spicy and warm flavor, so they’re a perfect addition to your fall and winter cocktails.
I’ve shown you how to make homemade Orange Bitters a long time ago, and by signing up to the Cocktail Times Newsletter you can get my recipes for Grapefruit and Lavender bitters, so you can have a great collection at home to bring a lot more variety to your cocktails - without the need to take a deep dive into the non-potable cocktail bitters rabbit hole. Still, if that is something you wish to learn about, you can check out the books Handcrafted Bitters by Will Budiaman, Bitters by Brad Thomas Parsons, and for rapid-infused bitters, Liquid Intelligence by Dave Arnold.
So here’s what you’ll need to make allspice bitters.
• 17g lightly crushed allspice
• 2g dried orange peels
• 1g vanilla bean (cut lengthwise)
• 1g ceylon cinnamon
• 0.5g cloves
• 0.5g coffee beans lightly crushed
• 0.5g star anise
• 2 cardamom seeds (not pods)
• 1g cinchona bark
• 1g quassia chips
• 240mL Plantation Overproof Dark Rum
• 115mL water
• 15mL (0.5oz) 1:1 demerara syrup
I know this seems like a lot of different ingredients, so why are we calling this allspice bitters? Because all of these will complement and elevate each other, with allspice being at the forefront. We have some flavoring agents, two bittering agents, a solvent to extract the flavors from everything, and a little bit of sugar. Usually I’d place all ingredients into a mason jar, and leave it sealed to infuse for 3 weeks, but today however I’ll show you how you can make bitters in one day using a sous vide technique - just keep in mind if you plan to use the slow infusino to open the jar everyday and to give everything a stir.
So begin by adding all the flavoring and bittering agents into a sous vide bag, as well as the rum. This will extract the flavors from our ingredients and offer a nice funk to the bitters. The Plantation rum I went with has 69% ABV, and in general higher ABV content means more extraction, but since some ingredients are only soluble at a certain ABV, I’ll lower the alcohol content to 55%. To do that I’ll need to add 60 ml of water (to get these numbers right I used an online calculator, which you can find here). Now seal the bag and place it in the sous vide set to 65 °C or 150 °F, for 6 hours.
Once this is finished, let it cool off before opening the bag and strain our bitters in the making. We’ll now need to get the ABV of the bitters down to 45%, but we don’t want to just pour in plain water and thin out the flavors, so we’ll place the strained solids back into the same sous vide bag and pour in a small amount of water, enough to cover everything, and sous vide it again for 1 hour at 65 °C or 150 °F. This way, we’ll be infusing the water that we’ll use to lower the ABV as well - also, if you don’t have a sous vide you can place all of the mixture in a small pot over medium heat and infuse the water that way.
We’ll filter out the solids again and measure the amount of bitters we got after straining. I ended up with 240 mL of 55% ABV bitters, so we’ll need to add 55 mL of our 0% ABV infused water to get it to where we want. Lastly add a touch of sweetness in the form of the demerara simple syrup to bring out the flavors - 3mL (0.1oz) of it for every 60ml (2oz) of bitters. You can now mix everything to combine, but we are not yet done, as many of our ingredients have released their essential oils, which will make your cocktails look cloudy when chilling.
We’ll get rid of these oils by placing the bitters in the freezer for about an hour before filtering, and that way the oils will freeze and get caught by the filter - which I pre-chilled as well. This step will also very effectively catch all the small particles that went through the mesh strainer before, but for best results, place this back in the freezer or a fridge as it filters. Once this is done, just pour your allspice bitters into small dasher or dropper bottles and label them.
Homemade bitters not only elevate your home cocktail game but also make a great gift for anyone that’s into cocktails - and something that’s been a gift to all of us is the support from so many of you, especially our Patrons! This week we are adding our latest top-tier Patron, James Quinn, to the Cocktail Time Wall of Fame, and if you want to join him and support what we do, make sure to check out our Patreon, as I’m sure you’ll enjoy many of the perks for you to access.
As a final note for the bitters, I’d highly suggest you take your own notes while making them in case you change anything or want to adjust the second batch to your taste. Next week we’ll use these Allspice Bitters to make a fall twist on a classic cocktail, so I’ll see you then. Cheers!
Sous vide: https://geni.us/ldAXX2
Precision scale: https://geni.us/cWyu
Measuring cups: https://geni.us/ZJhTxOg
To make it easier for you to try these recipes you can grab the bottles I used from CURIADA here: https://bit.ly/cocktailtimecollection
By buying through the affiliate links you’re also helping out the Cocktail Time channel with a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Cheers!