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RECIPE: DIY cocktail bitters

Victoria bartender, cocktail expert and booze writer Nate Caudle shared this recipe for making smoky orange bitters at home – perfect with brown spirits.


You can use any whisky but to add a nice smoky flavour to these orange bitters, a smoky Islay malt (scotch). I like to use McClellands Islay because it's not as expensive as using Talisker, or Laphroig or something like this. It runs about $40 and has almost as much of that smoky sensation.

Doing a full bottle of booze might be a little much for the home enthusiast. So I condensed the recipe down to 600ml

1L large Mason Jar

500ml Marquis de Villard VSOP Brandy

100ml Smoky Scotch (McClellands or Laphroig, Talisker, etc)

4 peeled oranges, with the peels charred or toasted over gas flame

1/4 cup dried orange peel

4 orange slices, bruléed with demerara sugar (I used a torch)

6 star anise

heavy pinch of whole cloves

8-10 allspice berries whole

1/2 vanilla bean

1 tbsp dried gentian root (found at a herbalist)

Combine and let sit sealed in a cool/dry place for at least 10 days to infuse the flavours.

Strain through coffee filter for clarity, bottle and enjoy.

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