For my next batch of bitters, I decided on a more spice-mixed base to see how these flavours would play with rye and other spirits better. I adapted a clove & cardamom recipe that I found online at seriousseats.com. In that strange way that some herbs & spices are available in some countries, but not others, the cinchona bark used in the recipe is hard to come by in the UK. Instead, I used quassia chips, but reduced the quantities as I understand they are a lot more bitter than cinchona.
300ml of tsikoudia from Crete
1/2 tbs. of cardamom seeds, cracked
1/2 tbs. of allspice, cracked
1 tbs. of cloves, cracked.
10 gr. of cinnamon sticks (about two 10cm. sticks)
1 tsp. of cassia bark
1/2 tsp. of quassia chips
1/2 tsp. of gentian root, broken up
1 tbs. of dried orange peel
zest of 1/2 orange
I put the spice ingredients into a mortar & pestle, and gave them a gentle grind, as I want pieces in the steeping liquor, not dust. Then I placed all the dry ingredients into a clean Kilner jar & poured over the spirit. These will be given a daily shake, and I’ll proceed to the next step in a couple of weeks.
Update (01/08/14): The mixture is now very rich, with a very bitter taste. I felt it needed a bit of a citrus lift, so I have added the zest of a lime to add an extra kick.
Update (08/08/14): The liquid is now strained into a small bottle, whilst the solids go into a saucepan with enough water to cover them. I’ll boil these together for 10 minutes, then cool and bottle them (water & solids) in my Kilner jar as before.
Update (31/08/14): The alcohol mixture has now been mixed with liquid from the solids jar (strained) and 2 tablespoons of a rich sugar syrup. The flavour gas a massive kick of cloves and cinnamon, so I am debating whether to call these Christmas, rather than just clove, bitters…