A month ago I was totally intimidated and scared of bitters, what they were, and how to use them. A recent encounter changed that.

It all began with a cocktail drink at Patois in New Orleans.  The beautiful drink menu started off with a lovely champagne cocktail that was something like this: Champagne, Cointreau, Orange Bitters and a twist of orange.  Sounds simple right?

I turn to Nathalie and Brett and ask, “What exactly IS Orange Bitters?” I am not the biggest fan of orange-infused anything and I wanted to be SURE to make the best of the most delicious cocktail that evening. Drew explained that bitters are essentially any fruit or spice marinated in 100% Pure Grain Alcohol. Nathalie added, “You can make it yourself.”

I ordered the drink, asked for a twist of lemon instead of orange, and I was sold.

I went home and made lemon bitters.


Fill a sterilized pint jar with 100% pure grain alcohol.
Thoroughly wash an organic lemon and peel with a knife.
Add peel to alcohol in pint jar.
Hand squeeze juice from peeled lemon into jar and add three bay leaves.
Put on the lid, close tightly, and let sit for a day or two.

Viola, bitters.

June – from our studio – tells me that you should normally let the bitters sit and muddle for a month or more; however, a recent cocktail party proved successful with my two-day version.  Everyone kept asking, “Did you really make these?” After researching the internet, I realized that there are much more complicated recipes for bitters which involve straining, simmering, and longer periods of sitting. However, truth-be-told, you can make them just about any way and from just about anything.

I do intend to try some variations in the coming months. Perhaps I will get myself organized and make holiday gifts for 2012.

My newest cocktail – inspired by Patois: Fill glass 2/3 with Prosecco, add a splash of Cointreau, add 1 teaspoon (or less) of Natalie’s Lemon Bitters and a twist of lemon.

I noticed last night that Patois drink menu has been updated to include house-made citrus bitters and candied ginger. Sounds delicious. I am going to add a hot pepper to my next round; however, I will be planning another trip to New Orleans (and Patois) soon.

My lesson: NEVER be intimidated by what you don’t understand. Just ask and then try.

Happy New Year!

7 comments on “#RECIPES: BITTERS

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  1. Pingback: I want to be friends with Faythe Levine. « Alabama Chanin

  2. Laura

    Upon being inspired (very) by this post, I have discovered that grain alcohol is illegal in Virginia. I believe that 50% corn moonshine will do the trick. As always, thank you.