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Step-by-Step DIY Guide: Make Your Own Bitters

Step-by-Step DIY Guide: Make Your Own Bitters

Every well-stocked bar has a variety of bitters, and in these days of resurgent cocktail culture, you can find many places that make them in house. Bitters are essentially high proof alcohol concoctions infused with herbs, fruits, spices or roots. As longtime mixologist Phoebe Esmon knows, there is vast room for experimentation with bitters’ flavor, ranging from an intense herb variations to the classic spiced aromatic.

“The classic of all classic cocktails — The Old Fashioned — stems from a basic aromatic bitters,” says Esmon. “But you can easily get creative and adjust the recipe for countless other drinks.”

You can easily create your own classic cocktails by stocking your bar with bitters from the store. But, if you’re like us and are curious about how to make them yourself, Esmon reveals the basic recipe isn’t all that hard to execute. Tea, a handful of spices and some high-proof bourbon are really all you need.

We sat with Esmon recently at her current bar home, Emmanuelle, in Philadelphia's Northern Liberties neighborhood. Click through our guide to try your hand at it.

All photos by Grace Dickinson

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