As an herbalist, I must confess, I put herbs in just about everything. Herbs in my coffee, herbs with chocolate, herbs in my salad, you name it and I probably put herbs in it! So, when it comes to cocktails, I add herbs. Herbs in the form of herbal bitters have been used in cocktails since at least the 1800’s. Bitters add depth, structure and complexity to any cocktail and give a boost to digestive function, too. Before we get into much into the cocktails, you may want to read about the medicinal benefits of herbal bitters, here.
This recipe for lavender bitters is my current favorite. I love to add a splash to margaritas for a lavender margarita. Try it in your favorite cocktail or add a dash to sparkling water for a quick and delicious aperitif.
Lavender Bitters Recipe
- 1 ounce dried Lavender
- 1 ounce dried Orange Peel
- 1 tbsp dried Yarrow
- 1 tsp dried Ginger
- 2 fresh Vanilla Beans (Cut into ½”-1” pieces)
- Vodka or Glycerin/Water to cover (approximately 2 cups)
- Grind dried herbs to a powder using a coffee grinder, mortar & pestle, or Vitamix.
- Place ground herbs and chopped vanilla beans into a jar so the jar is 1/3 to 1/2 full
- Pour vodka over the herbs. (If you want your bitter to be alcohol-free, use a blend of 50% food grade vegetable glycerin and 50% distilled water.) Add enough of the vodka (or glycerin/water mixture) to cover the herbs with at least 2 inches of fluid. Or, if the herb floats, add enough fluid so there is at least 2 inches of liquid below the herb. Cap the jar, date and label.
- Store in a cool, dry place for at least 14 days, returning to shake the jar several times per day. For optimal flavor and complexity, store and shake for up to 6 weeks. Add more alcohol or glycerin/water mixture if the plant matter becomes exposed.
- After 14 days (or more) it is time to decant. Place a square of unbleached cotton muslin in a funnel or wire strainer and place it over a jar or bowl. Pour the wet herb mixture into the funnel or strainer containing the of unbleached cotton muslin. Roll up the muslin and squeeze to recover as much of the liquid as possible.
- Optional: For a very clear, more refined looking bitter blend, filter the liquid once more using an unbleached coffee filter.
If you give this recipe a try, let me know what you think! Leave a comment and let me know if you have any questions. And don’t forget to take a picture of your creative cocktails and tag it #nectarherbandtea on Instagram! I love seeing what you come up with.