Entertaining

The Secret to Killer Holiday Cocktails

How to use bitters to take your drinks to the next level

How to use bitters

If you follow CB2 on Instagram, you might have noticed a little thing we’re doing on IGTV called CB2 At Your Service. It’s a sort of virtual concierge providing tips, tricks and insights that make your holidays a little bit easier, a little more enjoyable… and we couldn’t think of a better place to start than with a nice cocktail. (Or three.)

We enlisted the help of the self-proclaimed “Julia Child of cocktails,” Devin Kidner. Devin’s mixology career started when she entered a cocktail-making contest on a whim in 2014, and now she’s the founder of Hollow Leg, where she teaches people the art and science of cocktail crafting. Oh, and that 2014 contest? She won — without any prior mixology experience.

How to use bittersHow to use bittersHow to use bitters

The art and science of cocktails might sound fancy-schmancy and, well, time-consuming, but Devin shared a few deceptively simple ways to pull off incredibly tasty drinks for all your holiday entertaining needs. Bonus: you’ll be free to actually enjoy your own party.

Bitters and tinctures are one of the simplest ways to take your holiday drinks to the next level — or as Devin calls them, “the condiments of the cocktail world.” And who better to show us how to use bitters and tinctures than someone who has made a career of it?

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BITTERS & TINCTURES?
Tinctures are made of a base alcohol and one other ingredient. Bitters are more complex. They have multiple flavor combinations layered on top of each other — some of which have to be, well, bitter.

Bitters and tinctures add complexity and nuance to any cocktail but are surprisingly simple to make. Or, if you want to keep it super easy, you can buy a few bottles from Hollow Leg, made by Devin herself. The black pepper bitters are a favorite at CB2 HQ, especially when paired with the cranberry-maple punch recipe she shared on IGTV.

Try combining a few flavors, like cinnamon bark bitters and ginger tincture, for a truly custom cocktail. We asked Devin for a few of her favorite bitters and tinctures recipes so you can make your own at home.

How to use bitters

Cherry Vanilla Bitters Recipe

1 cup 151-proof neutral grain spirit

1 vanilla bean, split

3 oz dried cherries

2 teaspoons black walnut leaf

Place all ingredients in a jar with sealable cap. Shake every day and store at room temperature, out of direct light. Patience is key: bitters should be ready after two weeks. After two weeks, strain and store in a bitters bottle.

Recommended cocktail pairing: a classic old-fashioned.

Toasted Pecan and Marshmallow Bitters Recipe

1 cup 151-proof neutral grain spirit

4 oz. toasted pecans, cracked

Tiny marshmallows

Place pecans in a jar with sealable cap. Fill remaining room with tiny marshmallows and add neutral grain spirit. Shake every day and store at room temperature, out of direct light. Patience is key: bitters should be ready after two weeks. After two weeks, strain and store in a bitters bottle.

Recommended cocktail pairing: buttered rum.

How to use bitters

How to use bitters

Citrus Bitters Recipe

1 cup 151-proof neutral grain spirit

Whole, cut-up lemons, limes, and oranges

Place lemons, limes, oranges and neutral grain spirit in a jar with sealable cap. Shake every day and store at room temperature, out of direct light. Patience is key: bitters should be ready after two weeks. After two weeks, strain and store in a bitters bottle.

Recommended cocktail pairing: gin and tonic.

For more from Devin, including the aforementioned cranberry maple punch recipe, check out CB2 at Your Service on IGTV.

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