Monday, September 24, 2007

Orange Bitters

This most excellent recipe for Orange Bitters comes from Savuer magazine via Whitney Hall (Woo! Thanks, H). Mixology is quite the rage right now with restaurants priding themselves on "hand-made" cocktails replete with house-brewed infusions, hand-cut ice-cubes, home-made syrups and old-timey recipes. Finally, I can live out my childhood dream of becoming and alchemic apothecary.

The orginal recipe can be found here.

Makes about 2 1⁄2 cups
Once a barman's staple, orange bitters—a potent concoction of botanicals used to deepen the character of many cocktails—is nowadays hard to find. The simplest way to enjoy this homemade version is to stir a teaspoon or two into a glass of tonic water; you can also use it to complete any number of cocktails, such as the manhattan, the dry martini, and the Fitty-Fitty. The process takes over three weeks, but it's well worth it.

4 seville oranges
2 whole cloves
2 whole coriander seeds
1 whole allspice
1 cardamom pod
1 pint 90-proof vodka

  1. Preheat oven to 175°. Scrub oranges well; remove and reserve the whole peel. (Save orange segments for another use.) Finely chop peel into 1⁄4" pieces and spread out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Bake peel, turning 2 or 3 times with a spoon, until almost completely dry, about 2 hours; let cool.

  2. Put peel, cloves, coriander seeds, allspice, cardamom pod, and vodka into a large jar. Secure tightly with a lid and set aside in a dark place to let steep for 3 weeks, giving the jar a good shake every day or two.

  3. Strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a clean jar, secure tightly with a lid, and set vodka mixture aside.

  4. Next, transfer the peel and spices to a small pot, add 1 cup water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Transfer contents of pot to a small bowl, cover, and set aside to let steep for 24 hours. Strain contents of bowl through a fine sieve into the vodka mixture, pressing down on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.

  5. Strain the bitters again through 4–5 layers of cheesecloth into a medium bowl, then return to jar. Store for up to 6 months.

First published in Saveur, Issue #99

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