“Bitters were first known as elixirs and come to us in a wide variety of flavors, but loosely speaking, they’re all essentially the same: herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients preserved in alcohol. As time wore on, certain elixirs would become essential, taking on the name “bitters” as they slowly but surely worked their way into the kitchen cabinets, family know-how, and so on. Their role one day as an accessory to the cocktail would become inevitable.” — Colonial Spirits

Flavored or aromatic bitters are easy to make and can take your cocktails to another level. We’ve asked our friend The Good Reverend for some help with this DIY recipe.

The Good Reverend’s Universal Bitters:

  • Zest of 3 oranges, no pith
  • 1 Tbsp Gentian Root
  • 1 Tbsp Wild Cherry Bark
  • 1 Tbsp Quassia (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp Cinnamon stick, crushed
  • 12 oz. Universal Spirit (or a clear, neutral spirit of your choice)

Directions: In a pint sized jar add all ingredients. Seal jar and store in a dark place for 14 days, shaking the jar daily. Strain the mixture into a clean jar, discarding the solids. Seal the jar and store at room temperature.