So what are cannabis bitters, you might ask?
Cannabis bitters can best be defined as an aromatic flavoring agent made from infusing a variety of botanical ingredients, roots, barks, fruits, and herbs (including, yes, herb) in a high-proof spirit or grain alcohol.
Once found in early apothecaries, cannabis bitters and tinctures were widely reputed for their medicinal effects, up until the early 1900’s when America’s attitude towards cannabis began to change.
Applied in dashes and meant to be a flavoring agent, this recipe is inspired by the classic flavor profile of Angostura used to craft cocktails, like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned, or added to sodas and shrubs for a refreshing mood enhancer. But you can adjust this base recipe with other flavor profiles to create a myriad of bitters, like orange, lavender, celery, etc.
Don’t stress if you don’t have all the ingredients on hand; almost everything is readily available online and ships quickly. You can substitute many of the ingredients below, but you will need gentian and/or angelica root to mimic the flavor profiles of this recipe.
Follow this cannabis bitters recipe to make your own “House” Cannabis Bitters:
(makes about 16oz)
- ¼ cup dried sour cherries
- 1 fresh orange peel (cut into thin strips)
- 2 tbs dried chopped orange peel (organic)
- 2 whole dried orange leaves (organic)
- 4 cardamom pods (cracked)
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 whole vanilla bean (halved and shaved)
- ¼ tbl cloves
- ¼ tbl cassia chips
- ¼ tbl gentian root (dried)
- ¼ tbl angelica root (dried)
- 1 ½ cinnamon sticks
- 2 cups of high proof bourbon or rye (preferably rye)
- 7-10 grams organic Indica (depending on preference – for this recipe I like using Humboldt Farms Indica)
- 1 cup filtered water (for best results, filter at least twice to remove impurities)
- 2-3 tablespoons of rich or simple syrup
When making any type of cannabis infusion, you always want to use organic cannabis products to avoid harsh chemical taste and residues. For this recipe, I recommend using a savory indica that will pair nicely with the rich flavor profile of a high-proof bourbon that we’ll be using.
Step One (Crucial Step): Decarboxylation of your bud.
This is arguably the most important part of the process, because when cannabis is heated it goes through a chemical process called decarboxylation that transforms non-psychoactive THCA into medicated THC. You can always skip this step using raw bud; your infusion will have extracted many of the essential oils in cannabis but will not contain any psychoactive properties.
- Spread out your ground up cannabis evenly on a baking sheet and bake the bud at 235- 240 F for for 40-45 minutes so that we can transform the non-psychoactive THCA into medicated THC.
*Be careful not to exceed these temperatures as you can easily damage the THC*
- Place all your dry ingredients in a quart-sized mason jar or glass container.
- Pour in 2 ½ cups of your base spirit into the jar with your dry ingredients, give or take until all your ingredients are covered.
- Seal the jar and store it at room temperature away from direct sunlight for 12-16 days, making sure to gently agitate the jar every one – two days.
- After about two weeks, you should be able to taste the aromatics, botanicals, and herbs, maturing together. When you feel your infusion is ready, it’s now time to finish the product.
- Strain liquid through a cheesecloth into a clean quart-sized jar to filter solids from the potable.
- Repeat this until all the remaining sediment is removed but save the leftover solids.
- Transfer the solids to a small clean saucepan, barely cover with water, and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 8-10 minutes.
- Remove from the saucepan and let cool completely before. When cool, add liquids and solids to a clean jar and store for 5-7 days. Make sure to agitate the bottle every few days.
- After 5-7 days strain the liquid like before to remove all the solids and sediment and then discard the sediment.
- Add this newly stained liquid to the original bitters base solution. And add 2 oz of your sweetening agent.
- Technically you are ready to go, but I suggest you let the infusion rest for 2-3 days before decanting your smaller jars.
- Don’t worry if there is some minor sediment or reside although your could continue to strain until you’re satisfied.
And that’s it. Your hard work and patience has paid off. Your new batch of bitters should last a lifetime, but for optimum flavor and aromatics, I recommend you use within a year.
Potency for every 2-3 dashes of bitters is approximately 15 to 30 milligrams of THC per glass, depending on the potency of the cannabis and amount.
Keep in mind that this basic recipe lends itself to improvisation; just like cooking, mix and match your favorite flavors and have fun making it your own. The more you continue to experiment, the more comfortable you’ll become and the better your bitters will taste.