Here is another quick and easy recipe to add to your Christmas goodie bags or hamper baskets this year – my homemade Christmas Bitters, the perfect way to add a dash of something special to any cocktail!
Bitters go back thousands of years right back to ancient Egyptian times in fact when bitter herbs and spices were brought together and infused with alcohol to be used as a restorative and basic cure-all. Since such time bitters have changed little over the years and been used for medicinal purposes mostly in Europe and later as tasty additives to cocktails and other drinks rather as one might season food with salt and pepper.
My recipe for Christmas Bitters will take 2 weeks to infuse so get it started now for Christmas giving and using. I have brought together a really festive blend of aromatics; oranges, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, fennel seeds, star anise, vanilla, black peppercorns and coriander seeds. Throw in the essential booze element of vodka and you have the perfect combination for Christmas Bitters.
You will just want to peel of the oranges, so either go for the unwaxed variety or scrub fruit well in hot soapy water and rinse thoroughly and pat dry before peeling off the skin and avoiding the bitter white pith. You want to dry this orange peel as well as the ginger in a very low oven (120C/250F) for about 45 minutes.
Having completed that little task it is merely a case of bashing your spices about a bit and then tossing all ingredients into a nice big jar, topping up with the vodka and letting nature do her bit for the next two weeks while you give the jar a jolly good shake now and then.
Hard work? Hardly!
Once all the goodness and flavoiur has been sucked into the vodka it is time for you to strain your Christmas bitters through either a sieve lined with a double layer of muslin or two sheets of kitchen paper. This is so that no solids whatsoever get into the finished product and the drink is as clear as possible.
Pour the resulting bitters into little sterilised bottels and label. This will keep for up to a year.
Serve a few drops of your Christmas Bitters in a G&T, add to champagne, martinis or all types of cocktails.
This recipe is from my new bookette Naughty & Nice Edible Gifts For Christmas.
- 4 oranges unwaxed or well scrubbed
- 2 tsp peeled and sliced ginger
- 500ml/1 pint vodka
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla pod
- 6 cardamom pods
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 star anise
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- Peel skin from oranges avoiding pith and dry this along with the ginger slices in a low oven (120C/250F) for 45 mins
- Bash all spices to release flavours and place in a large jar
- Add the orange peel and ginger and top up with vodka
- Pop on a lid and shake well
- Set aside in cupboard for 2 weeks shaking regularly
- Strain through double layer muslin or 2 sheets kitchen paper and decant into small sterilised bottles.
- Will keep for up to 1 year
- Use a few drops in G&T, champagne, martinis and other cocktails