Krangostura Bitters Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Bitters are a great introduction to the DIY bartender's arsenal and require little more than waiting for the flavors to steep.
  • Versatile aromatic bitters mixes well with everything from brown spirits to tequila to gin.
  • Krangostura is loosely based on the quintessential Angostura brand, full of clove and cardamom and supported by a backbone of gentian root and cinchona bark.

Now that co*cktails and the often-mustachioed men (and facial-hairless ladies) who make them have been etched into our consciousness by the craft co*cktail movement, you can't move a millimeter in even the dingiest of contemporary drink dens without hearing that "B" word: bitters, bitters, bitters. Restaurants and bars are crafting their own concoctions, while enthusiasts and entrepreneurs (myself included) toil away in their kitchens and laboratories for months-long macerations. The spirits world seems to have gone bonkers for bitters. But what are bitters really made of? And how can you go aboutmaking your own?

Krangostura Bitters Recipe (1)

Arguments abound as to the ingredients and processes that constitute true bitters, but we'll make it easy for you: They all require some sort of bittering agent utilized with adequate potency. Classic choices include wormwood, gentian root or quassia and cinchona barks, but as long as your mixture is concentrated enough, you could even make bitters with produce like arugula and dandelion greens.

While the flavor spectrum for bitters runs the gamut—from papaya to xocolatl mole to barbeque—we'll be focusing on a recipe forhomemade aromatic bitters that plays well with most spirits. I call themKrangostura.

Krangostura Bitters Recipe (2)

Aromatic bitters are the most traditional of the species, with the crown jewel being Trinidad's House of Angostura. And while I'd never be so ballsy as to label my Krangostura bitters a true substitute for Angostura—whose recipe allegedly calls for 47 different ingredients—these historically-inspired bitters should perform a similar function. The batch name's unfortunate pun comes from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles of my childhood and its disembodied supervillain Lord Krang—the baddest, toughest anthropomorphic brain to ever wear a "human-shaped exo-suit" (Wikipedia, not me).

Equipment You'll Need

  • 750-milliliter mason jaror other airtight sealable non-reactive container made of glass or stainless steel.(Available online.)
  • Mortar and pestle
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Fine-mesh strainer
  • Soup pot, at least 2-quart capacity
  • Cheesecloth
  • Saucepan, 1 1/2-quart capacity or bigger

Choosing Ingredients for Krangostura Bitters

Aromatic bitters are big on holiday spices likeclove, cinnamon, and nutmeg, but for these I really wanted the clove to dominate. You'll also be usingmace, which has a bitter nutmeg flavor with clove undertones, and Indonesian cinnamon, whose low levels of essential oils make it the meekest-flavored cinnamon on the market.

Angostura bitters, as bitter as they are, have a profound sweetness to them as well, so this recipe includesraisins, molasses, and muscovado syrupfor depth and the peels of fresh Meyer lemons and Cara Cara oranges for their low acidity to ensure that bright fruitiness without overpowering the spices. If you can't find Meyer Lemons and Cara Cara oranges, regular lemons and navel oranges can be substituted.

Finally, to make this heady brew actual bitters, there's a healthy dose ofgentian(available as chips and twigs from Mountain Rose Herbs) andcinchona bark(available at Kalustyans and Herbs of Mexico.) You can get powdered versions, but they'll be trickier for filtering than the chips and twigs.

You'll start your bitters with the highest-proof neutral spirit you can find. A neutral spirit is important because you want a blank canvas to start with, and strength-wise, the higher the proof the faster and more intense the infusion will be. ChooseEverclear 190, Devil's Spring (160 proof), or Polmos Warszawa Spirytus Rektyfikowany (190 proof).

Maceration Method

To make your bitters, you'll add all the spices and molasses to your airtight container and cover with the alcohol, then store in a dark place. Tuck it away in the darkest part of the closet. If you have a Narnia, by all means store it with your friend Mr. Tumnus.Every day, take it out and give it a shake.

Some people create separate tinctures of each ingredient and then blend them to create the final product. This isn't ideal, since the flavors never really get a chance to meld together and develop during maceration, resulting in a product that deals in surface flavors only, devoid of background notes. For this recipe, everything except the citrus (which gets added after two weeks) is combined with the grain spirit at the beginning.

As with everything culinary, it's important to constantly sample your efforts. If any tweaking is necessary, you can add a little more of one thing or another to reach your desired flavor balance. Wait a day or two before tasting again.

Finishing Up

After a month of storing and shaking daily has gone by, maceration is complete, and it's time for the fun stuff—dilution and filtering. Without performing these steps, all you really have is a jar full of wonderful-smelling muck. The first thing to do is strain the jar contents through cheesecloth. Set aside the macerated alcohol. But don't discard the solids!

Put the solids in a 2-quart (or bigger) soup pot. Cover them with four cups of water and bring to a boil to infuse the flavor of the ingredients into the water and burn off any remaining alcohol. Let cool, then strain the infused water into a separate container.

The macerated alcohol that you strained needs to bebrought down in proofor else it will taste and smell like Christmasy rocket fuel and all of your hard work will have been for naught. To bring down the proof, you'll mix the two solutions (the macerate and the infused water) together to produce a rough estimate of between 40%-45% alcohol by volume, or ABV. If you're using Everclear, which is 190 proof (or 95% ABV), you'll mix your infused alcohol with your infused water at a roughly 1:1 ratio to bring the 95% ABV macerate down to 44% ABV. You'll also add some muscovado simple syrup to the mix at this point to sweeten it up.

After mixing, pour some of the bitters into a clear glass container and hold it up to the light. At this point you have two choices. If you're happy with the clarity, congratulations, you've just made bitters! Slap on some vintage duds and get to slinging tipples.

If you start to sweat from all of the little particles floating around in your prized creation, then you canfilter the diluted mixturea final time, either by passing it through a coffee filter or layers of cheesecloth, or the easier but sloppier option of letting it sit for a day or two until physics takes care of the remaining solid matter, after which you can either decant or use a turkey baster to skim the clear stuff from the top. And voila, you're ready to start making co*cktails!

April 2011

Recipe Details

Krangostura Bitters

Active15 mins

Total720 hrs

Makes750 ml

For the Bitters:

  • 1/2 cup whole cloves

  • 1/4 cupwhole black cardamom

  • 3/4 cupblades of mace

  • 2 tablespoons whole allspice berries

  • 1/4 cup cinchona bark (available at Kalustyans andHerbs of Mexico.)

  • 1 heaping teaspoon gentian root (available as chips and twigs from Mountain Rose Herbs)

  • 2 ounces Indonesian cinnamon (about sixteen 2-inch long sticks, or 8 full-size)

  • 2/3 cup black raisins

  • 3 tablespoons blackstrap molasses

  • About 400ml Everclear 190 or highest available proof neutral grain spirit

  • 2 Meyer Lemons and 1 Cara Cara orange, for peels added after 2 weeks

For Dilution Liquid:

  • 4 cups water

For Muscovado Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup muscovadosugar

  • 1 cup water


  1. Loosely mash cloves, cardamom, mace, and allspice in a mortar and pestle to release oils—just a few good bashes, not enough to pulverize. Add to a 750-milliliter airtight nonreactive container.

  2. Add cinchona bark, gentian root, cinnamon, raisins, and molasses and cover with enough alcohol that solids are submerged, with an additional half-inch of alcohol in the container. Store in a dark place and shake daily.

    Krangostura Bitters Recipe (3)

  3. After 2 weeks of daily shaking, peel Meyer lemons and Cara Cara orange, tearing up peels by hand to release essential oils. Open container and add peels. Reseal container and store in a dark place, continuing to shake daily.

  4. At the end of the fourth week, strain the solid ingredients through cheesecloth and set the strained alcohol aside.

  5. To make dilution liquid, place solid ingredients in a soup pot and cover with 4 cups water. Bring this mixture to a boil for about 15 minutes to infuse the flavor of the ingredients into the water. Let cool and strain through cheesecloth. Measure the strained alcohol and mix with an equal amount of strained dilution liquid.

    Krangostura Bitters Recipe (4)

  6. To make muscovado simple syrup, heat 1 cup water with 1 cup of muscovado sugar and stir until sugar dissolves. Let cool. Add 3/4 cup simple syrup to the diluted bitters mixture.

  7. At this point, you should check for clarity by pouring some bitters into a clear glass container and holding it up to the light. If you are satisfied with the clarity, consider yourself done. If you'd like to remove any present sediment, either pass bitters through a coffee filter or multiple layers (5+) of cheesecloth and repeat until you've reached desired clarity.

Special Equipment

750-milliliter mason jar or other sealable non-reactive container, mortar and pestle, vegetable peeler, mesh strainer, soup pot (at least 2-quart), cheesecloth, saucepan (at least 1.5-quart)


This recipe yields more than most home bartenders will really need. Luckily, bitters make great gifts.

Read More

  • Manhattan co*cktail
  • Old Fashioned co*cktail
Krangostura Bitters Recipe (2024)


What are the main ingredients in Angostura bitters? ›

Angostura Style Aromatic Bitters Recipe
  • 1 Teaspoon gentian root.
  • 1/4 Cup cinchona bark, chopped.
  • 1/2 Cup whole cloves.
  • 1/4 Cup whole cardamom.
  • 6-8 Sticks of cinnamon.
  • 2 Tablespoons whole allspice berries.
  • 400 ml or 13.5 oz of Everclear (or grain liquor)
  • 2 to 4 cups of water for dilution.

What is the ratio of bitters to alcohol? ›

Building Your Bitters

Yes, it's a little weird, but that's the industry standard. The ratio is 4:1 (alcohol:plant parts) for dried plants and 2:1 (alcohol:plant parts) for fresh or frozen.

How much Angostura bitters to use? ›

Many classic co*cktails, like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan, call for a dash or two of Angostura to add bitterness and spice. A dash is anywhere between ⅛ and ¼ of a teaspoon. Be careful not to add too much as the bitters are strong in flavor and could overwhelm your co*cktail.

Are bitters legal to buy under 21? ›

Bitters are technically alcoholic, and they're usually between 35% to 45% ABV. Because they're sold in such small bottles and their flavor is so strong, most recipes call for just a dash or a few drops, making its overall alcohol contribution negligible, and why you don't need to be 21 or older to buy them.

How many ingredients are in Angostura bitters? ›

Angostura bitters uses over 40 ingredients.

What are the raw materials for Angostura? ›

Molasses (a by-product of producing refined sugar from cane) is the main raw material used in the fermentation process at Angostura. This is added to yeast that is propagated from a strain that was created in the 1940s. The fermentation process usually takes between 24-36 hours, although it can be left up to 72 hours.

Can Angostura bitters get you drunk? ›

All Angostura bitters are alcoholic at around 44.7% ABV. Therefore these bitters can indeed get you drunk, however, the intense flavour of the spices in the bitters makes them difficult to stomach on their own. Only a couple of droplets can transform your co*cktails though!

What alcohol is best for bitters? ›

No matter what kind of recipe you're concocting, all bitters should be created with high-proof liquor. This means liquor that is 50% alcohol by volume (ABV) or 100 proof. Vodka or grain alcohols, like Everclear, tend to work the best.

Can bitters alcohol get you drunk? ›

Will I Get Drunk Off Bitters? Bit of an interesting question here with a complex, yet straightforward answer: Yes, but no. Yes in that, while bitters is typically comprised of about 45% alcohol, the truth is, you usually only put a few dashes in here or there for flavor, not additional alcohol.

Can you have too much Angostura bitters? ›

Large doses of angostura might cause nausea and vomiting. Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There isn't enough reliable information to know if angostura is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Do Angostura bitters go bad? ›

Yes, Angostura bitters do go bad, but their shelf-life is much longer than you'd think. They last nearly indefinitely, but most people recommend only keeping them for around 5 years like other bitters.

How much is 2 dashes of Angostura bitters? ›

When in doubt, know that a dash of bitters measures to be approximately 1/8 of a teaspoon and that you should start small. You can always add more as needed. A couple dashes of bitters go a long way.

Why are bitters not illegal? ›

During Prohibition, bitters emerged as a so-called cure-all. Though the stuff — a strong solution of herbs, spices, roots and a base spirit — can pack a 90-proof punch, stores labeled the bottles “non-potable,” allowing people to buy it legally.

Is it safe to drink bitters straight? ›

For the most part, while bitters are great as a co*cktail enhancer, they shouldn't be something you consume on their own.

Do bitters need to be refrigerated? ›

First and foremost, it's wise to keep bottles tightly closed as this can prevent any oxygen from entering. Additionally, though it's not necessary to refrigerate them unless they're fruit-based, bottles should always be stored in a cool and dry area away from direct sunlight and heat.

How many herbs are in Angostura bitters? ›

The actual recipe of Angostura aromatic bitters is a closely guarded secret, although it is said to contain more than 40 ingredients, including exotic spices and fruits.

Are bitters good for the liver? ›

Because of the gut-brain connection, not only can bitters enhance digestion, but they can reduce depression and improve mood. They also support your liver's natural detoxification processes, and thus can improve skin health.

What botanicals are in Angostura bitters? ›

The botanical ingredients used historically in preparing bitters have consisted of aromatic herbs, bark, roots, and/or fruit for their flavor and medicinal properties. Some of the more common ingredients are cascarilla, cassia, gentian, orange peel, and cinchona bark.

What is the difference between bitters and Angostura bitters? ›

Angostura has a spicy character with cinnamon undertones. Santa Teresa makes bitters with coffee and cocoa overtones. Today's co*cktail bitters variety goes much beyond Angostura, which was once the most popular brand.


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