Celebrate the season with bitters

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Bitters certainly sound like the quintessential 2020 cocktail component, but in fact they’ve been enjoying a resurgence as part of classic drinks for a few years now. Originally formulated as a medicinal tonic, bitters blend herbs and spices with alcohol and were marketed as digestive aids. Now we appreciate their aromatic flavors as part of many types of mixed drinks.

You can mix up a batch of bitters yourself; it’s a surprisingly easy process with just a few special ingredients you can order online. They make a great gift, too. Here,  Garden Manager Steven Schwager shows you how to make our signature holiday bitters, full of the flavors of the season.

Steven’s Holiday Bitters Recipe 


  • Zest of 1 one lemon, in strips
  • 1 tsp (3 g) dried cut gentian bark*
  • 2  tsp ( 5 g) dried cut wild cherry bark*
  • 1 tsp (3 g) dried cut dandelion root*
  • 1 tsp (3 g) dried cut angelica root*
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 6 cinnamon sticks
  • 8 allspice berries
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 Tbs brown mustard seeds
  • 8 slices fresh ginger
  • 12 dried mango slices
  • ½ cup candied ginger pieces
  • 2 cups Everclear
  • ½ cup bourbon
  • 3 Tbs double-strength simple syrup
Instructions Place all ingredients in a 32-ounce glass jar. Seal the jar and shake, then set aside for 4 to 5 days, giving the jar a good shake each day. Taste it, and if it’s not strong enough for your liking, let it sit another day or two. Strain the mixture through a strainer lined with two layers of damp cheesecloth. Make sure all the solids are caught in the cheesecloth, and squeeze out any further liquid from the fruit. Discard the solids and let the liquid settle for an hour. Line a funnel with a double  layer of damp cheesecloth  and decant the liquid into small bottles, taking care to leave behind any cloudy sediment. Seal the bottles and store in a cool dark place.

* Steven purchased these ingredients from Lhasa Karnak Herb Company

Bitters are a great addition to cocktails, and you can add a splash to any drink to give it a little extra boost of flavor. Stacey Kamp, our resident mixologist, shares a recipe here for a warming ginger cocktail with holiday bitters. 

Stacey's Spicy Ginger Old Fashioned


  • Candied ginger
  • 2 brandied cherries
  • 2 dashes Holiday bitters
  • 2 oz Rye Bourbon
  • ½ oz Domaine De Canton ginger liqueur
  • 1 clementine, peeled and segmented
  • Club soda


Muddle the clementine, one cherry, one cube candied ginger and bitters at the bottom of a mixing glass.

Pour in rye and Domaine De Canton liqueur.

Add ice and stir or shake to chill.

Strain into glass with ice, splash with club soda

Garnish with a piece of candied ginger and brandied cherry.

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