Grapefruit Bitters

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I’ve been playing with making my own bitters lately. I love bitters and have a small collection of them in my liquor cabinet, from Gary Regan’s Orange Bitters, to Fee Brothers’ Mint Bitters. After reading this article online about making grapefruit bitters, I decided to try it, with my own variations.

We’ve been using these at work, in everything from Pegus and Negronis to Manhattans, and in our new favorite, the Santa Carla. Give it a shot and tell me what you think.

Grapefruit Bitters Print Me

  • Day One
  • 1 fifth grain alcohol
  • 3 grapefruits, peeled with a channel knife
  • 1 lemon, peeled with a channel knife
  • 1 tbsp. powdered gentian root
  • 1 tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp. dried mint
  • 1 tbsp whole cloves
  • Day Two
  • 4 oz grapefruit juice
  • 4 oz water
  • ¼ tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp. almond extract
  • ¼ tsp. coconut extract
  1. Mix Day One ingredients and steep overnight
  2. Add Day Two ingredients and strain the whole mixture through cheesecloth or coffee filters until clear.
  3. In a large sauté pan, melt 6 oz (by volume) cane sugar until lightly caramelized. Add 6 oz water and stir until syrup is smooth and clear.
  4. Add to alcohol mixture (away from the heat!) and bottle.

Recipe printed courtesy of

4 Replies to “Grapefruit Bitters”

  • Hunter says:

    Hmm. Now I have another, unrelated question. I have gentian root extract rather than powder. Anybody know how much of that would be equivalent to 1/4 tbs powdered?

  • Hunter says:

    Not knowing what a channel knife was I went and read your article on the subject. But now that I know I’m left with additional questions…

    After I peel the grapefruits/lemon, am I supposed to put just the fruit in? Just the twists? Both? Is it really important to use the channel knife, or can I just peel them with my hands and chop the peels up? If the fruit is going in, am I supposed to slice and/or crush them? Or should they be steeped whole?

  • tatsu says:

    Hi, I was hoping to get your opinion on an idea I’ve got.

    Do you think it would be possible to make bitters by creating everclear infusions of key ingredients and then mixing them in small quantities to make it easier/faster to taste test what the outcome will be like? I’m trying to figure out if there’s a way to experiment that doesn’t take years and leave me with gallons of bitters that I decide I don’t care for. Also, I have a difficult time determining what the impact of adding certain ingredients will be.

    Any thoughts you have would be appreciated. Thanks!

  • your little sister says:

    hey baby where’s my bottle?!

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