I’ve been experimenting with bitters recipes, and the biggest challenge is time (second is finding obscure herbs). Bitters need to sit a few weeks for the alcohol to fully extract flavors, so my latest quick-fix was high pressure.
With identical batches of the citrus bitters recipe below, I put one in a mason jar, while the other went into a refrigerated whip cream canister, charged with two nitrous cartridges overnight. The jarred version was ready after three weeks, while the quick bitters were ready, if not identical, after 24 hours under pressure. The quick bitters pulled a lot more fruit flavors than bitter, tingly notes, so next time, I may try doubling quantities of certain herbs.
Conclusion: it costs a couple extra bucks (nitrous cartridges run about a dollar each) and the results are not the same, but I got a high-quality product in a fraction of the time.
Quick Citrus Bitters
zest of 3 oranges, cut into strips
¼ cup dried lemon peel
8 green cardamom pods, cracked
½ teaspoon gentian root
½ teaspoon quassia
¼ teaspoon size chunk of chinchona bark
¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon allspice berries
2 cups 151-proof grain alcohol
1. Combine all ingredients in whip canister, seal and charge with two nitrous cartridges.
2. Check after 24 hours, and strain if pleased (otherwise, transfer to a glass jar, removing any herbs already strongly flavoring the bitters. Shake and taste daily to determine ideal flavor profile).
3. After aging, dissolve 2 tablespoons honey in 2 cups of water and combine.
Note: I also ran a test where I reserved the solids and boiled them in the water for 5 minutes, strained, dissolved the honey in the water, and let it cool before combining with the alcohol. Thoughtlessly, I let the solids from the speed bitters sit for 3 weeks, so I don’t want to focus too much on the result, but it added enough to both versions that I plan to repeat the process. Interestingly, adding water to the alcohol caused it to get cloudy, like an absinthe louche (oil, water, yadda yadda), but the boiled version remained cloudy, while the other lifted to the top.