DIY Rhubarb Bitters Recipe

It's rhubarb season, so those gorgeous magenta stalks are popping up at farmers markets and grocery stores around the country. Rhubarb bitters pair well with every spirit and complement sweet, sour, and bitter flavors alike.

Note: Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should not be used for any recipes. Only use the pinkish-red stalks. If you cannot find high-proof vodka, substitute 80-proof vodka. You can use 151-proof neutral spirits, if available to you. Cinchona bark and angelica root are often available at herb shops or Latin markets. You can also buy them online. Cinchona bark can also be used to make other bitters or homemade tonic. You can substitute all one bittering herb, if you only have one available to you.

Recipe Facts

Active: 20 mins
Total: 384 hrs
Makes: 2 cups

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  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb (red/pink stalks only, about 1 pound)
  • 1 tablespoon zest from 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 1/4 cups 100-proof vodka
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 3 juniper berries
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
  • 1 teaspoon dried chamomile
  • 1/2 teaspoon cut cinchona bark (not powdered, see note)
  • 1 teaspoon cut angelica root (see note)
  • 1/2 cup light rum
  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Add rhubarb, lime zest, and lemon zest to a quart-sized jar. Add the vodka, seal, shake, and let sit for four days.

  2. After four days, add coriander, juniper, fennel, lavender, chamomile, cinchona, angelica, and rum in second quart-sized jar. Seal, shake, and set both aside for 10 more days.

  3. After 10 days, strain the solids out of each jar, reserving the solids and liquids separately. Combine the strained solids with the water in a small saucepan and set aside. Combine the strained liquids in a single jar and set aside. Heat the solids and the water over medium heat until simmering, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to jar with liquids. Seal, shake, and set aside for another two days.

  4. Strain through sieve, pushing down to extract as much liquid as you can. Then bottle by filtering through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Store at room temperature for up to a year.

Special equipment

Two sealable glass jars, fine-mesh strainer, zester or peeler, coffee filter or cheesecloth

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