Make Cherry Spice Bitters

7 Apr

I was so excited by my first attempt at bitters making that as soon as my newly-minted bitters were bottled, I set about making a new batch, this time from a recipe I found at  This recipe is easy to make, but does involve several steps more than the first bitters I made and required some ingredients that aren’t available in Knoxville.  I ordered the herbs I didn’t already have at Penn Herb Company- they’re great.

Aside from the fancy ingredients, the biggest differences between these bitters and the bitters I made are that they contain bourbon, rye and vodka (while I used only vodka) and that you create several different infusions, let them sit for different amounts of time before mixing them together.  The result is sweet and spicy and much more complex (forgive me for adding to this word’s overuse) than my first bitters batch.  I excluded the last section of the recipe, which directs you to age it in an oak barrel.  Now, I’ll go to great lengths to make a cocktail, but at this point I’m drawing the line at buying an oak barrel. It still turned out well, though I personally would like a little more cherry flavor to come through.  As soon as the new batch was finished, I mixed up a nice peppy bourbon swizzle, the recipe for which follows the bitters recipe.


  • 12 oz dried tart cherries
  • 1 oz milk thistle
  • 4 oz lemon peel
  • 1 tablespoon black walnut leaf
  • 1 tablespoon bitter blend (rose petal, burdock, milk thistle, dandelion, apple, barberry, fennel, fringe tree)


  • 1 tablespoon wormwood
  • 2 teaspoons clove
  • 4 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Place 4 oz of cherries in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 101˚ bourbon
Repeat with the rest of the cherries (3 bottles in total)
Place the milk thistle and walnut leaf in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 100˚ rye
Place lemon peel in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 100˚ (or higher) vodka
Place bitter blend and wormwood in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 100˚ rye
Place the remaining ingredients in an empty 750mL bottle and fill with 101˚ bourbon

Shake all ingredients daily

After one week strain out bitter blend bottle
After three weeks strain out all but cherry filled bottles
After four weeks strain out cherry filled bottles

Blend all liquids together to achieve desired flavor profile
Add 6 oz honey vodka (1 part honey to 3 parts vodka- let it sit at least a week)

Taste again and make adjustments if necessary (perhaps sugar if too bitter)
Strain and bottle bitters.

Bourbon Swizzle

  • 2 oz. Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp. Superfine Sugar
  • dash(es) Bitters
  • 3 oz. Club Soda

Shake all except the Club Soda and strain into a frosted collins glass. Add the Club Soda.

For more recipes like this one, check out the Domesticity page.

3 Responses to “Make Cherry Spice Bitters”

  1. Anonymous May 4, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    where did you buy your bitter blend?

  2. Jack May 21, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    Great post, but please could you tell me the proportions of the botanicals in the bitter blend?

  3. mackeyda May 23, 2011 at 1:40 pm #

    I just combined them in equal amounts. It worked fine for me!

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