DIY Cherry Bitters Recipe

Photograph: Liam Boylan

Swapping in cherry bitters for Angostura bitters can give your cocktails a subtle yet delightful boost, adding a hint of fruit while still delivering the bitterness your drink needs. The best part about making your own is you can customize your bitters to your cocktailing needs.

Notes: Gentian root and quassia chips can usually be found at specialty herb stores. You can also order them from Lhasa Karnak.

I used Everclear 151 for my neutral spirits base. If you cannot find this in your area, you can substitute the highest proof vodka available to you.

Recipe Facts

Active: 10 mins
Total: 0 mins
Makes: 1 1/2 cups

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  • 1 1/2 cups cherries or 3/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup 151-proof neutral grain spirit, divided
  • 1 whole star anise, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 tablespoon lemongrass, cut in small pieces
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon gentian root
  • 1 teaspoon quassia chips
  • 1 cup rye whiskey


  1. Put the cherries in a sealable glass jar with 1/2 cup of the neutral grain spirit. Be sure this jar is large enough to later hold an additional 1 1/2 cups of liquid. Shake. This is your cherry flavoring.

  2. Put the anise, fennel, lemongrass, vanilla, and cardamom in a different sealable glass jar with remaining 1/2 cup of the 151 neutral grain spirit. Shake. This is your spice mix.

  3. Put the gentian root and quassia chips in a sealable glass jar with the rye. Shake. This is your bittering mix. Set all jars aside in a dark place at room temperature.

  4. After 10 days, strain the spice mix and bittering mix through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the solids. Strain again through a coffee filter into the cherry flavoring jar. Do not remove the cherries. Shake. You now have one jar that contains the strained spice mix and bittering mix along with the steeping cherries and alcohol. Let this steep for an additional 11 days.

  5. Strain out the cherries through a fine-mesh sieve, and then strain the rest through a coffee filter into your desired container. Store at room temperature for up to one year.

Special equipment

3 mason jars, fine-mesh sieve, coffee filters

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