DIY Grapefruit Bitters Recipe

Photograph: Marcia Simmons

Grapefruit bitters do double duty, giving a cocktail a little citrus lift along with the bitterness. These bitters go especially well with effervescent drinks or tequila and gin cocktails.

Notes: Specialty herb stores carry cut gentian root, but you can also order it online from Lhasa Karnak Herb Company. Be sure to get cut gentian root and not the powdered variety. If 100-proof vodka is not available where you live, use standard 80-proof vodka. I use Ruby Red grapefruit, but you can use your favorite variety. To make simple syrup, combine 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar in a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Cool before using. Simple syrup will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Recipe Facts

Active: 15 mins
Total: 2 mins
Serves: 384 servings
Makes: 2 cups

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  • 1 1/2 cups 100-proof vodka

  • Peeled zest from 1 grapefruit (see notes)

  • Peeled zest from 1 lemon

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms

  • 4 dried juniper berries

  • 1 fresh sage leaf

  • 1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cut gentian root (see notes)

  • 1/4 cup light rum

  • 2 ounces simple syrup (see notes)


  1. Place grapefruit and lemon zest in a sealable glass jar with the vodka. Seal and shake, then let the mixture steep overnight in a cool, dark place.

  2. Add the rum, lavender, coriander, juniper, sage and gentian root. Seal and shake, then let this combined mixture steep for 10 to 12 days in a cool, dark place.

  3. Strain through cheesecloth-lined sieve. Then bottle by filtering through a coffee filter. Add simple syrup to the bottle. Seal and shake, then let rest for 1 day. Store at room temperature for up to a year.

Special equipment

Citrus zester, mason jar, sieve, cheesecloth, coffee filter

This Recipe Appears In

Nutrition Facts (per serving)
3 Calories
0g Fat
0g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 384
Amount per serving
Calories 3
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 0g 0%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 0g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 0mg 0%
Calcium 0mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 0mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)