Cardiff Cocktails

By Mark Holmes

Lemongrass Bitters


After a brief spell of not writing anything up due to working on a new menu (and missing last months Mixology Monday), I’m finally getting around to posting the recipe for some Lemongrass bitters I made back in January.  These are my first set of bitters and I have to say they came out pretty good. The basic method I used to make them (thanks to Brad Thomas Parson) was to make the bitters in one small batch, rather than making tens of tinctures and blending them (I have plenty of bottles of booze already and to be honest, having an excess amount of mason jars just wouldn’t fit in my flat). For more detail on making bitters check out, If you don’t own it already, Brad  Thomas Parsons excellent Book called Bitters.

Lemongrass Bitters

  • 5 Lemongrass stalks, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dried citrus peels *
  • 1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon prickly ash
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • small piece of chenpi
  • 1/2 teaspoon cassia chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon quassia Chips
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 star anise
  • 1/4 teaspoon licorice
  • 1/4 teaspoon Zedoray
  • 1 craked tsao-ko
  • 1 Vanilla pod halved and seeds scraped out (use both pod and seeds)
  • 500ml High proof spirit (I used Spiritus - a 95% polish spirit)
  • 250ml water
  • 2 tablespoons sugar syrup (2:1)

This looks like a lot of ingredients but if you can find Mujur spice from your local Chinese supermarket you’ll save yourself a whole bunch of money and time (Mujur consists of fennel, prickly ash, cloves, chenpi, cassia, bay leaves, anise, licorice, and tsao-ko). The only other unusual items to pick up is your Spiritus, which can be found in most local Polish food shops, and quassia chips, which is an internet job.

*Dried Citrus Peels - Zest and finely chop the peels 3 grapefruit, 8 lemons, 8 limes, and 6 oranges. Preheat the oven and bake for 30 mins at 90 degrees Celsius. Store in an air tight container. This makes about half a pints worth of peel so you wont need to do this again for a long time.

To make the bitters add all the ingredients except the water and sugar in a large mason jar, seal and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks, shaking daily.

after the 2 weeks strain all the solid through cheesecloth until all the sediment has been separated out, squeezing the solid to expel any excess liquid. seal the liquid in a clean jar and add the solids to a saucepan. To the saucepan add the water and bring to the boil, lower the heat, cover and simmer for 10 minutes

After the 10 minutes remove from the heat and leave to cool completely. Empty the saucepan into a clean mason jar (i.e. not the one with the infusion from earlier), seal and store at room temperature, out of direct sunlight for a further week, shaking once a day.

After the week is up, filter the jar with the solids in as before, and add to the jar with the original solution. This time discard the solids. Add the sugar and shake. Leave this final solution at room temperature  out of direct sunlight for 3 days, but do not shake.

After the 3 days are up and the sediment has settled, filter one last time through cheesecloth. now your bitters are ready for bottling.

Japanese Cocktail

This cocktail comes from Jerry Thomas’ 1862 cocktail guide ‘How to Mix Drinks or the Bon Vivants Companion’.

  • 50ml Brandy
  • 10ml Orgeat
  • 3 dashes of Lemongrass bitters

Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass, garnish with a couple pieces of lemon peel, discarding one.

  • 5 March 2013
  • 6