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Recipes for homemade bitters and Grenadine?

I discovered in a discussion about bitters on the Boston board that some of our better local bars make some of their own.

Does anyone have recipes for homemade bitters? I'd also love to see recipes for other cocktail flavorings like Grenadine. The Grenadine recipes I've seen online seem simplistic: just pomegranate seeds boiled with simple syrup.

(Mods, let me know if this belongs on the Home Cooking board.)

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  1. I do not have a recipe I have tried myself, but I happened to notice just the other day that Gary Regan has a recipe for orange bitters in "Joy of Mixology". I'm too lazy to try to make it myself.

    Also, as I know you're in Boston, I thought I heard that Eastern Standard makes their own Grenadine. Maybe they'd be willing to cough up the recipe?

    1. You might try the Home Cooking board... I know for a fact that someone has posted a grenadine recipe before, but hell if I can't find it! :-)

      1. funny, i found your post because i'm looking for a bitters recipe myself. i've been making a lot of forgotten classic cocktail recipes from old cocktil guides lately, and i am trying to move toward making my own ingredients. I recently dumped my full bottle of rose's grenadine down the sink--the stuff was disgusting. my homemade grenadine is delicious and has a lovely deep, ruby color. Here's how i made it: put 2 cups of Trader Joe's 100% pure pomegranite juice in a saucepan, bring to boil and then reduce to simmer over low-medium heat. When the juice is cooked down to one cup of liquid, stir in 1 cup of natural organic sugar, simmer for a few more minutes until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let it cool, then use a funnel to pour it into the empty rose's bottle. Store in the frig.
        i also make my own rock candy syrup and maraschino cherries. Now i go off in search of a bitters recipe! happy cocktailing.

        1. The best bitters recipe I have found to use as a basis for other versions has been Robert Hess' house bitters. If you do a google search for "Hess House Bitters" it will return the recipe. From the method he outlines you can start making many other recipes.

          1. Saveur Jan/Feb 2007 page 18 has a recipe for orange bitters.

            1. I was going to start a similar thread, now I don't have to. I've been trying to build up a liquor cabinet at home and I've also been mixing up some manhattans at home and thought it would be great to use homemade bitters and marachino cherries. I have not made any bitters yet, but most of the recipes I've found go something like this: mix some dried orange peel, cardamon, caraway, and coriander seeds in a jar with a couple of cups of grain alcohol and let it sit for like a month. Strain the alcohol through a cloth into another jar. Smash up the seeds and boil in a saucepan with water for a few mins. Strain this and let it sit for a few days, then add it to the spirits. Some recipes call for carmalized sugar for color/sweetness.

              MC Slim, I've read some of your posts and see that you make your own marachino cherries. I'd love the recipe at some point. Maybe I'll start a new thread asking for recipes unless you want to post it here.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ali G

                The original pre-Prohibition maraschino cherry was made with the Marasca cherry, a small black sour cherry that only grows in Northern Italy, the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, and Slovenia; this was soaked in Maraschino (hard "ch") liqueur, made from the same cherry. I've never found real Marasca cherries in the States.

                Suggestions I found somewhere on Chowhound said the next best thing is domestic sour cherries. They're only fresh in season briefly, so watch for them (Whole Foods carries them). Dried sour cherries don't look quite as nice, but work just fine when you can't find fresh, and are easy to find. (Sweet cherries don't work at all, I'm told.)

                In either case (fresh or dried), stick them in a jar, add Maraschino liqueur (I prefer Luxardo, but will use Stock in a pinch) to cover, and refrigerate. Give it a shake every few days; they're ready to use in a couple of weeks.

                Maraschino gets its flavor from the cherry and its pit, which adds an almond-like note. There are some pure Marasca cherry brandies or liqueurs (Maraska brand Wisniak and Kirschwasser from Croatia, Luxardo Morlacco from Italy) with no flavor from the cherry pit, but I haven't been able to find those in Boston. Some folks prefer to use grape brandy, which I imagine would also be nice.

                In any event, make your own, and never use one of those candied-clown-nose abominations ever again. No. 9 Park infuses its own Maraschino cherries, and reuses the infusing liqueur in other drinks: very nice.

              2. The easiest way to make maraschino cherries is get a bag of IQF Cascadia farms frozen cherrys, put into a mason jar, cover with Maraschino liquor and let sit for a week in the fridge.

                1. Ran across this one for grenadine.

                  Grenadine: 2 parts pomegranate juice, 1 part cane sugar. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer to thicken slightly. Remove from heat and finish with a touch of orange flower water. Let chill, store in refrigerator.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mr Lee Ho

                    The latest Good Eats episode on pomegranates has a grenadine recipe that is essentially the same as this one here. He simmers it for about 50 minutes to get it to the right consistency.

                  2. grenadine is just pomegranate juice and sugar. just deal with it being that simple. that's what it's supposed to be.

                    1. I, too, caught this thread whilst looking for a bitters recipe. However, on the topic of grenadine, I found a different recipe.....which required no cooking and it is FANTASTIC! It's as simple as using Pomegranate juice, Pomegranate Molasses, Sugar and Orange Flower Water (gives it an interesting twist). Dissolve the sugar in the Pomagranate juice, then add the Molasses and Orange Flower water and shake it up to dissolve. It smells almost like strawberry jam, but the taste is very different. Had a Presidente with it last night....very nice. (the recipe came from "Imbibe" magazine but I tweaked it a bit.) - I'm off to try bitters now....wish me luck!

                      1. I have been mixing 50/50 Pom and sugar in a bottle with a screw lid shake it for 30 seconds, let it sit for 15 minutes, shake again. It's that simple. No cooking, no other flavors.