Orange Bitters



OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe plan this past year was to make Orange Bitters as holiday gifts to give to loved ones in driving distance. However, after making them, the flavor seemed too esoteric to make en masse. The recipe I followed called for lots of anise seeds; I know licorice is one of those either-love-or-hate flavors, so I decided to not gift a jar that tastes like orange black licorice to some who may recoil in disgust.

I did end up giving a pint of this to our friend Sam, who I know loves all things licorice, and it turned out that he had been tasked with bringing Orange Bitters as an ingredient for a holiday party he was attending the next day. I love serendipity! Sam experimented with mixing it with ginger beer, which is delicious! A twist on the Moscow Mule, Sam named it the Gainesville Donkey. Recipe for that is below, too.

Ingredients for Orange Bitters:

1 orange
1 lemon
1 T anise seeds
8 cardamom pods
3 T lemon juice
2 c vodka
1/3 c light brown sugar (added later)


Heat oven to 125 degrees. After rinsing the orange and lemon, peel them both with a vegetable peeler being careful to not get any of the white pith. Set the peel on a baking tray, and bake for about an hour, or until they’re firm and crisp. With a mortar and pestle, crush the anise seeds and cardamom seeds. (The original recipe kept the shells on the cardamom seeds; I shelled them and just crushed the seeds.) Place the seeds, peels, 3 T lemon juice, and 2 c vodka in a quart mason jar. Let sit in a room temperature place for about 3 weeks. Shake the jar when you think of it.

After it has set, set a sieve lined with cheesecloth or dishtowel, and pour the mixture through. Heat 2 c water with 1/3 c light brown sugar in a sauce pan on medium heat. Let the syrup cool and add it to the strained citrus vodka. This can be sipped and drank plain, or over ice, or with a splash of seltzer.

Ingredients for a Gainesville Donkey:

1 1/2 oz Orange Bitters
2 oz Ginger Beer
1 oz seltzer

Mix together with ice. Garnish with either zest of an orange, or an anise star.


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