Bitters--easier than you think!
I first made my own bitters at a local market food festival in Oakland. It was really fun, but I didn't really have any instruction and ended up with a really strange tasting bitters.
At our recent workshop, we learned how to make bitters from a bitters master - Eric of Embitterment, a local DC bitters maker.
There are a few different ways to do bitters, we followed this simple method guided by Eric.
Here's how to do-it-yourself:
a variety of spices (like cloves, star anise, bay leaf, chamomile, hops, grapefruit rinds, hibiscus, cinnamon, chocolate, vanilla, etc.--we got ours from Mountain Rose Herbs)
a bitters agent (Eric mixed us up a specialty blend)
grain alcohol (we used Everclear--warning buying in bulk at liquor store gets you some looks)
cheese cloth (to strain - you can also use a strainer)
infusion jar (we used a 12 oz mason jar)
dasher bottle (we used a 5oz bottle)
funnel (if you have one, it's helpful when you put into dasher bottle)
First, think about the flavors you want to end up with. We spent some time tasting bitters, smelling and talking about what goes well together. Maybe you want to go spicy chocolate chai? Or perhaps a citrus fruity floral blend? Go to Kitchn for some recipe ideas or tweet at @dcembitterment for some tips.
Once you know your own recipe, gather your ingredients in a jar, about one quarter to half full is good.
Fill with grain alcohol.
Add your bitters agent (the more you add, the more bitters-tasting it will be).
Tightly put lid on jar and label.
Wait 1-2 weeks then taste! If you have a more floral concoction, taste after a week.
Once you are happy with you taste, shake it up.
Strain into your dropper bottle with a cheese cloth.
Add to you favorite drink and enjoy!