DIY Vermouth & Bitters Recipe

Try your hand at making your own vermouth and bitters with this guide. Experiment with tinctures and find your favorite flavor.

| July 2019

Photo by Tory McTernan

DIY Vermouth

It turns out that we botanical growers are primed to make vermouth, too. Just like juniper is an essential ingredient for gin, you need wormwood to make vermouth. In fact, it’s illegal to call a spirit vermouth if it doesn’t include wormwood. Other than that, the sky’s the limit when it comes to flavouring this spirit. One maker of craft vermouth boasts 20 botanicals.

Before you can start to flavour vermouth, you need to prepare a collection of tinctures. Once they’re ready, you’re ready for the off. Pour a bottle of white wine into a saucepan, add 200g (7oz) caster sugar and heat until the sugar dissolves. (Alternatively, replace the caster sugar with homemade caramel for a deeper, darker flavour.) Remove from the heat and let it cool. Once the liquid has cooled down, begin adding your chosen tinctures – use a pipette and go slowly, adding one drop of individual flavour at a time, tasting and recording quantities as you go.

DIY Bitters

I was excited to discover I could make my own bitters. It requires a combination of bitter and aromatic herbs as well as some exotic spices (most of which are difficult or near-impossible to grow in the UK), so you may need to play a bit fast and loose with a combination of homegrown herbs and shop-bought spices if you really get into making bitters. However, simple recipes can be created using ingredients you can harvest from your own backyard.

Photo by Pixabay/PDPics

Bittering agents include angelica, liquorice root and wormwood. You can complement these bitters with aromatics and spices like caraway, cardamom, chamomile, chilli, citrus peel, coriander seeds, fennel, juniper berries, hibiscus, lavender, lemongrass, mint, rose, rosemary, sage and thyme. As a general rule, you’re aiming to create a blend with about 20–50 per cent bitters with herbs and spices to round out the flavour.



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