Making Cocktail Bitters (Part 2)

Bloody Mary Bitters

As I mentioned in my first post about making cocktail bitters, (Making Cocktail Bitters (Part 1)), the process starts with making your own extracts. After many weeks of waiting and shaking my mason jars filled with citrus, spices and bittering agents, I was finally ready to concoct my first batch of bloody mary cocktail bitters.

Turns out, getting the correct proportions of the bitter extracts, citrus extracts and spice extracts is a little harder than I expected. The main reason is that all of the flavors are so intense after weeks of being steeped in the vodka that I had to tread carefully. Too much bitters and you lose all of the flavor of the other extracts, too little and the mixture doesn’t have that bitter zing that you need. Also, after doing a little more research online, I realized that a little sweetness helps to smooth out the rough flavors, which can be added to the bitters with a little simple syrup.

The results? Pretty darn awesome if I do say so myself. The flavor is subtle, and not exactly what I was expecting but I think it’s pretty awesome for a first try. I’m definitely going to be trying different combinations of bitters in the future.

Bloody Mary Bitters
Photograph by St. Louis Photographer Jonathan Gayman.

The following is the final recipe that I came up with for my Bloody Mary Bitters. Keep in mind that your mileage may vary depending on the strength of your homemade extracts:

Bloody Mary Bitters Recipe


2 tbs quassia extract
3 tbs fenugreek extract
2 tbs chile extract
3 tbs celery extract
1 tbs lime extract
1 tbs water
1 tbs simple syrup


Mix all of the ingredients together in a small jar or bottle, shake well. Bitters will last on your shelf indefinitely, but I think you’ll use them up quickly!

Ok, so now you have Bloody Mary Bitters. So what do you do with them? The obvious use is in an actual Bloody Mary (and I will share my recipe for the Perfect Bloody Mary in my next post). But you can also use the bitters to make a magnificent Bloody Mary Martini. Adding a few drops of my concoction to a adds a little zip to the old classic, without ruining a good thing.

Bloody Mary Martini Recipe

Add 3 oz of your favorite vodka or gin to an ice filled shaker, along with a splash of quality
French Vermouth. Stir or shake your martini (I like mine shaken) and strain into a chilled martini glass. Top with a few dashes of Bloody Mary Bitters … no other garnish necessary. Enjoy!

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