I really let holiday stuff get down to the wire this year, and these homemade bitters saved the day! One batch makes 20 awesome holiday gifts.
I’m a big fan of gifts you can make in a mason jar, so when Bust magazine’s October/November issue had a recipe for cherry vanilla homemade bitters, I knew I had to go for it!
It takes two weeks for the homemade bitters to infuse properly, and I started them on Wednesday. That puts me just under the wire for Christmas gifts! Whew. If you’re getting a late start, don’t fret! You can still make this, just include a note that the bitters need to rest until whatever date they’ll be ready. The suspense!
The great thing about gifts in a Mason jar is that the jar is endlessly useful. A quick trip through the dishwasher, and your giftees can reuse those empty jars for storing food or knicknacks or even in craft projects. Hurrah!
The Bust recipe was for 2 pints of bitters, but I adapted it to make 20 half pints, so I have enough bitters for everyone on my list. I highly recommend trying to find that issue of Bust, because there’s a drink recipe to use your bitters, a second bitters recipe in there that I didn’t use, some really cool stuff about urban farming, and a hilarious interview with Mindy Kaling. Since I changed things up a bit, though, I’m going to share the recipe I used here!
I mixed up my bitters into half pint-sized mason jars. The original recipe says to strain your bitters, but I’m planning to leave the goods in the jar. They look so pretty that way!
Cherry Vanilla Homemade Bitters (adapted from Oct/Nov 2011 Bust magazine)
Yield: 20 half-pints of bitters
- 20 half pint Mason jars
- 200 dried cherries (about 5 cups)
- 20 star anise pods
- 20 vanilla beans
- 2 handles decent bourbon (I used Jim Beam)
- Place 10 cherries, 1 anise pod, and 1 vanilla bean in each of your Mason jars.
- Fill each jar up the rest of the way with bourbon.
- Shake each jar well, and store at room temperature for 2 weeks, shaking it every few days.
- Print out a drink recipe that uses your bourbon, punch a hole, tie it to the jar, and you’re ready to make someone’s holiday a little brighter!
I also adapted a Manhattan recipe from Esquire magazine to print out and tie to each bottle of bitters. You can download my printable pdf, if you want to include the Cherry Manhattan recipe with your bitters.
- 2 oz good rye whiskey
- 1 oz sweet vermouth
- 1/8t cherry vanilla bitters
- 1 cherry
- In a cocktail shaker, shake the rye, vermouth, and bitters with crushed ice.
- Place the cherry into a rocks glass, and strain the cocktail over the cherry.
What handmade gifts do you guys have in the works?