For this recipe, you shouldn't use a vodka brand that you wouldn't drink straight. For the bitters blend, I soak the ingredients for two days (you can taste the bitterness when its ready). For the aromatic blend, I soak things for 10 days and then cook the ingredients for a few minutes in water, after removing them from the alcohol. I then add them back to the alcohol and let the mixture sit for another five days to squeeze out the last drops of flavor.
You can order the herbs and spices online at Mountain Rose Herbs.
Basic Aromatic Blend
• 2 tablespoons dried orange peel • 1 tablespoon dried lemon peel
• 1 tablespoon coriander powder • 1 tablespoon caraway powder
• 1 tablespoon anise seed powder • 1 tablespoon cassia bark
• 25 ounces vodka
Macerate ingredients in the vodka for 10 days.
Remove ingredients from the vodka and cook them in five ounces of water for a few minutes. Then return them to the vodka and allow to macerate for an additional five days before straining.
Basic Bitter Blend
• 1 tablespoon each of gentian root, dandelion, and quassia bark • ½ tablespoon wormwood
• 1 cup of vodka or other high-proof spirit
Macerate the spices for 48 hours in the spirits.
Remove the solid ingredients, cook them in five ounces of water for a few minutes, and return them to the blend and allow to sit for an additional 48 hours.
Blend the above infusions at preferred ratios, adding flavoring agents, caramel, water, and sugar as desired. You can make flavoring agents by steeping fruits, spices, or other aromatics in alcohol or by making a syrup, such as by cooking fruit with sugar and water.
To read Derek's article about making bitters and adapting this recipe to meet your own flavor preferences, click here.