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Homemade Bitters, an Old-Fashioned, and a Naughty Gnome for #HandCraftedEdibles

In an effort to make all of my holiday gifts this year, I invited some of my favorite foodie bloggers to share recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of the twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes that you can make at home to give to friends and loved ones. We hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule: here.

This week, we're continuing our homemade libations - here's the first installment that kicked off the series, Libations, Part I - and here we are at Part II.

Thanks to these fabulous, cocktail-serving gals for these creations:

As for me, I shared my Nocino (green walnut liqueur) during Part I. I've also recently posted about my Sad Rhubarb Liqueur. Click on the recipe titles to go to the original post.

This week, I was torn: Do I share a recipe and serving suggestions for (1) homemade bitters or (2) homemade shrubs?

I put the question out to friends on social media and there was absolutely no consensus. So, I'm doing both. But this post is about homemade bitters and two cocktail recipes you can make with those bitters.

Honestly, I didn't know what bitters were until I had a champagne cocktail at a friend's house a few New Year's Eves ago; but I didn't know that I could make them until I interviewed a bartender at Restaurant 1833. You can read my piece Adventurous Libations for Whatever Ails You, that was printed in the Fall 2013 issue of Edible Monterey Bay.

What are bitters? They are to cocktails what spices are to cooking. They add dimension and depth. They balance flavors. They are warm, rich, spicy, and astringent. They are a cocktail game-changer. But they are also simple to make.

In preparation for this event, I made Spiced Vanilla Bitters and Meyer Lemon Bitters. Click on the recipe titles to go to the original post. Bitters are simply a combination of seeds, herbs, bark, roots, flowers, leaves, and more that are concentrated. Historically, they were used by apothecaries to cleanse the body of toxins and aid in digestion.

Today bitters usually come in bottles with eyedroppers or some way to dispense them judiciously. A drop or two can drastically change the flavor profile of a drink. What a difference a drop makes!

I strained out the bittering agents and poured my homemade bitters into cobalt glass eyedroppers* this week. I can't wait to gift these to some cocktail-loving friends for the holidays.

As Jake watched me bottle up the bitters, he asked, "Do we get to try them out?" Of course! So, I created two cocktails. The first used the Meyer Lemon Bitters, the second the Spiced Vanilla Bitters.

Bourbon Old-Fashioned 
serves 1


  • 1 sugar cube
  • 3 drops Meyer Lemon Bitters
  • 2 ounces bourbon (I used Knob Creek)
  • sparkling water

In an old-fashioned glass, drop bitters onto the sugar cube.

Crush cube with a muddler or a spoon. Add a couple of ice cubes. Pour in bourbon and top with sparkling water to taste.

Naughty Gnome 
serves 1


Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice. Pour the rum into it, followed by the ginger beer. Add the bitters and stir.

*This blog currently has a partnership with in their affiliate program, which gives me a small percentage of sales if you buy a product through a link on my blog. It doesn't cost you anything more. If you are uncomfortable with this, feel free to go directly to and search for the item of your choice.


  1. I have never used bitters either but I am going to try them for sure.

  2. You had me at bitters are to cocktails as spices are to cooking. Sold.


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