Photo by Sam Schiller

If you are a craft cocktail concocter or just an enthusiast, you will have an appreciation for the craft of bitters. Angostura is your basic orange peel and spices, but many bartenders have started to create their own rhubarb, blood orange, cilantro, or lavender bitters to give their cocktails an extra touch of love. So I thought, why not enjoy a medicated dose of a cannabis cocktail by making your own cannabis bitters? There are two ways to extract your cannabis at home: decarboxylation or an alcoholic solution. When making bitters, a high proof alcohol solvent is needed too.

Bitters have a long cocktail history, but, like shrubs and fermented goodies, lost its popularity until recently. Presently, they are making a crafty comeback. Now, when you visit a bar known for their cocktail menu, you might see a cornucopia of little tincture bottles filled with differently flavored bitters.

In the comfort of your own home, you may want to experiment your craft with ganja bitters. And don’t think that bitters are only for cocktails. I like to use them in my carbonated water with a little bit of lime or any kind of mocktail to reap the medicinal benefits without alcohol. Adding a little sticky, earthy, skunky goodness to your glass could be a new remedy to add to your routine.

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The Process of Making Cannabis Bitters

First, you need to choose your alcohol solvent. Bitters are most commonly made with 100 proof bourbon but vodka is also used, especially for lightly spirited cocktails (because the bourbon will color your drink a slight orange-brown). Next, gather your herbs and spices: bitter orange peel, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon sticks, vanilla beans, star anise, lavender, cilantro, etc., and of course your flower. You can also add a bit of honey or agave for sweetness. I never add sweeteners because I enjoy the herbaceous flavors.

Essentially, bitters are made by extracting the flavors into the alcohol in a dark jar kept in a dark place for three weeks. There are two ways you can do this; you can try a combination of these herbs and spices and make the bitter tincture in one jar. Or, my favorite way, you can separate each herb and each spice to make their own bitter tincture. That way you can experiment with a little bit at a time, creating your own unique recipe to embellish a particular taste in combination with the cannabis. The latter requires more jars, but less guessing as to the perfect tasting ratio of your ingredients.

The End Result

Finally, make sure to keep the jars in a dark place for three weeks and give them a little shake every day to help the infusion process. After three weeks, you can bottle your bitters in their true stark condition or dilute them with purified water – 1 part bitter concoction to 1 part water – so as to have your little flavoring agents last.

cannabis bitters

Two Fail-free Cannabis Bitters Blends:

4-6 oz of 100 proof liquor should cover the ingredients with a ratio of:

  • 10 parts bitter orange (or try grapefruit!) peel, 3 parts clove, 1 part star anise, and 2 parts coriander. Add 1-3 grams of cannabis flower, a cinnamon stick, and a pinch of fennel seed (if you like fennel).
  • 4 parts bitter orange peel, 6 parts lavender, and 2 parts coriander. Add 1-3 grams of cannabis flower and a two-inch (5 cm) vanilla bean.

Featured photo by Sam Schiller