The first bitters we made were root beer bitters. When I smelled the finished product, my first thought was how delicious these bitters would be for the holidays – we would just need to add cranberries!
So I was so excited when grocery stores started stocking fresh cranberries could I could make cranberry bitters. I cobbled this recipe together from a Brad Thomas Parsons recipe, a recipe I found on Imbibe.com, and the Root Beer Bitters recipe.
They came out smelling delicious, tasting sweet yet tangy, and the color is GORGEOUS. They’re a little more difficult to make than the other bitters because of all the fruit, but they are totally worth the effort. If you start now, you have time to make your own cranberry bitters by the end of the December!
32 oz. fresh cranberries, each one pierced with a toothpick
Zest of one orange, cut with a potato peeler
2 tablespoons chopped crystallized ginger
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
One 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon gentian root
1/2 teaspoon white peppercorn1/2 teaspoon cassia chips
1/2 licorice root
1 cup water
2 tablespoons rich syrup
2 cups 100 proof vodka
Step 1: Dehydrate the orange peel and 1 1/2 cups of cranberries 200 degree oven for two hours or
until the fruit shrivels.
Step 2: Combine all the ingredients except the syrup and water in a mason jar. Make sure the vodka covers all the fruit. Cover and shake well. Let stand in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks, shaking the jar daily.
Step 3: After 2 weeks, strain the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined funnel into a clean container. Repeat until all sediment is filtered. Transfer solids to a small saucepan. Seal the jar & set aside.
Step 4: Cover the solids in the saucepan with 1 cup water & bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat, cover & simmer for 10 minutes.
Step 5: Remove saucepan from heat & cool. Once cooled, add saucepan contents to a jar. Seal the jar & store as above for 1 week, shaking the jar daily.
Step 6: After 1 week, strain the jar with the solids & liquids through a cheesecloth-lined funnel into a clean container. Repeat until all sediment has been filtered out. Compost the solids. Add this liquid to the jar containing the original vodka solution. (Note: this is the tough part because of the cranberries. I put the entire mixture through a large strainer before attempting to use the cheesecloth.)
Step 7: Make the Rich Syrup. It’s one part water to two parts sugar. Dissolve 1/2 cup demerara or turbinado sugar and 1/4 cup of water over low-medium heat. Remove from heat at the first crack of a boil. Let cool before using, and reserve the rest for another use. (We typically add a bit more water to the leftover to make normal simple syrup.)
Step 8: Add the Rich Syrup to the solution. Seal the jar & shake to fully dissolve. Store the jar as above for 3 days, then strain the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined funnel to remove sediment.
Step 9: Decant the bitters into bottles. Shake before using if the bitters are cloudy.
The bitters will last indefinitely. Use within a year for optimum flavor.
We know how difficult it is to find these ingredients, and we offer four ways to procure your own cranberry bitters on our Etsy Shop.
1. DIY Bitters Kit, including mason jar, cheesecloth, Rich Syrup, and Spice Pack to make your own bitters;
2. DIY Bitters Spice Pack, which includes only the spices;