Cocktail Bitters Base

Classic cocktailing made way easier than we thought it would be.

We’ve been enjoying our cocktails lately and were inspired by a recent libation featuring scotch and tobacco bitters. Yes, tobacco bitters. Inspired, we hit the interwebs to cull together the best of the best bitters recipes so we could start getting freaky with our flavors. The recipe below is a simple base which can be used on its own in cases where you’d use Angostura Bitters, or as a base for other flavors. The hardest part of making your own is patience but just remember that nothing’s more badass than rolling into a situation with home-infused party starters.

Equipment Needed: 2 – 1 QT Mason Jars with Lids, Meat Tenderizer (optional), Coffee Filter, Drip Coffee Filter Basket


  • 2 C 160 proof vodka (we’ve heard people use Everclear but warning label scared us away so we opted for Devil’s Springs; about $17.99/750 ml)
  • 1 1/2 TSP gentian root (you’re definitely going to need to order this online or go to a specialty spice shop like Kalustyan’s; about $4.99/oz)
  • 4 star anise pods (about $4.99/oz)
  •  1 TBSP green cardamom pods (about $6.99/oz)
  • 2 small cinnamon sticks (about $3.59/2 oz jar)


  • Crack the cardamom pods and put them in the mason jar.

Use a meat tenderizer to make things go faster.

  • Pour the alcohol in add the rest of the ingredients. Secure the lid and give things a good swirl.
  • Let the mixture sit for about 10 days, swirling it every other day to mix things up a bit. On the last day place a coffee filter in the basket of a drip coffee maker and place it over the mouth of another mason jar.
  • Pour the base liquid through the coffee filter to strain out all the solids. To make flavored bitters add 1/4 C of the base to 3/4 C of the flavored infusion.

You may need to tilt the basket a bit to keep the flow once the smaller pieces start to amass around the drip opening.

2 responses to “Cocktail Bitters Base

  1. I’m interested in your recipes but curious about the high-proof base. A lot of bitters have much lower ABVs, starting in the 4% range and typically topping off in the mid-40s.

    Are you preparing a side batch of water, steeping the same botanicals to cut your bitters with? Else, wouldn’t these bitters come out absurdly strong?


    • The Brothers Brown

      You’re totally right, Ben. This was an early experiment of ours that was missing an important element. We normally strain the infusion and cut it with equal parts water to bring it down below “paint stripper” proof.

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