Making Your Own Bar Ingredients and Cocktail Mixers
If you own a bar or are looking to open a bar, one way to personalize the cocktails on your menu is to sprinkle in some homemade ingredients. In the age of DIY-ing almost anything and everything, why not make your own bar ingredients? This may seem like a daunting task, but rest assured, it's not as hard as it may seem! Making your own bar ingredients will also save you money in the long run as well. Learn how to make your own bitters, simple syrup, grenadine, and maraschino cherries for all of the cocktails and drinks being served at your bar.
The most commonly used bar ingredients are bitters, simple syrup, grenadine, and maraschino cherries. Bartenders use these ingredients often for many different kinds of cocktails and mixed drinks. Continue reading to learn exactly how easy these four ingredients are to make.
How to Make Your Own Bitters
Bitters is one of the most popular bar ingredients to have on hand at any establishment that serves alcohol. Some drinks that use bitters include Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Sazerac, Champagne Cocktail, Pisco Sour, a Martini, or even a Daiquiri. These drinks are relatively easy to make as long as you have the right bar supplies. To make your own bitters you only need a few ingredients, measuring spoons, and measuring cups.
Choosing the Right Herbs, Roots, and Spices for Your Bitters
Before you make your bitters, think of what kind of drinks you would like to add them to. This will help direct what kind of herbs and spices you should use to craft your bitters. If the end flavor is going to be fruity and fun, use vodka as your base alcohol with a combination (or all) of a fruit peel, chamomile, lavender, or lemongrass. If you would like to use bitters in a darker, more savory drink, use whiskey as your base alcohol along with herbs and spices like sage, thyme, allspice, and cloves.
Bitters RecipeIngredients and Equipment:
- Two large glass jars
- Numerous small jars with lids
- A high-proof spirit (at least 100 proof or 50% ABV)
- A small funnel
- Herbs, spices, roots, and other flavorings of your choice
- Measuring spoons
- Bitters bottles
- Sweetener (only if needed)
- Distilled water (only if needed)
How to Steep and Infuse Bitters
Now that you have chosen what base alcohol, herbs, spices, roots, and other flavorings you would like to use for your homemade bitters, you will want to infuse or steep the mixture. As a common rule of thumb, use 4 ounces of alcohol for every teaspoon of herbs, spices, or roots that you want to infuse. Once combined, the entire infusion process will take about 2 weeks (give or take depending on your ingredients) to come to completion.Preparation:
- Gather all of the spices, herbs, and flavorings you would like to use in your bitters. If you are looking to make multiple kinds of bitters that use a few of the same ingredients, it will be best to separate them into small jars during infusion and then later combine them in the dropper bottles. If not, you can infuse all of your ingredients together.
- Next, pour your choice of alcohol into the jars and tightly secure the lids.
- Label all of your jars with the date and the contents within.
- Remember to shake your mixtures daily to distribute the flavors throughout the liquid. Test your mixtures every few days to see if they have reached maximum infusion. The mixture is ready when it smells just like the main ingredient(s).
- Strain the contents of the jars through a cheesecloth and into a clean jar or jars (if separated).
- Using your small funnel, pour your mixture into the storage bottle that has the eye dropper. If you separated your ingredients, choose which tinctures you would like to combine and pour them into the storage bottle.
- If you taste your bitters and think they are too strong, you can add a sweetener or use distilled water to soften the taste.
Many bitters are made to be strong and only need to be added to drinks a few drops at a time to achieve a prominent taste. Have fun experimenting with many different kinds of herbs to develop a perfect concoction and enjoy crafting drinks around the flavors your create.
How to Make Your Own Simple Syrup
Just like bitters, simple syrup is also another main ingredient used behind the bar. Simple syrup is used in drinks like the Lemon Drop, Whiskey Sour, Daiquiris, and Mojitos. Just like the name implies, simple syrup is very simple to make and requires only two ingredients and a few minutes of time. Read on to find out how to create an easy simple syrup that will sweeten up your drinks.
Simple Syrup RecipeIngredients and Materials:
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup water
- A sauce pan and spoon
- A medium sized bottle for storage
- Pour water into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil.
- Add sugar and reduce heat.
- Stir sugar continuously until dissolved.
- Allow syrup to cool and then transfer to a bottle that can be sealed tightly.
For a more flavorful simple syrup, add in raspberry crumbles, lemon or lime zest, or a few dashes of ginger or cinnamon. These little additions will give your simple syrup a unique edge and bring your drinks to life. Refrigerating your simple syrup will help it keep for about a month.
How to Make Your Own Grenadine
Just like the other bar ingredients we have covered, grenadine is also a necessity to have in any bar. Instead of giving your customers a dose of red food coloring and high fructose corn syrup in their drinks, delight them with the natural sweetness of homemade grenadine! Learn how to make a tasty grenadine for your bar with this recipe.
Homemade Grenadine RecipeIngredients and Materials:
- 1/2 cup of sugar
- 2 cups of 100% unsweetened pomegranate juice
- Juice from 1/2 a lemon
- A saucepan and spoon
- A small funnel
- A jar for storage
- Pour juice and sugar into your sauce pan.
- Over medium heat, stir mixture to help dissolve the sugar and bring to a boil. Be careful not to over boil.
- Turn the heat down and allow the liquid to thicken.
- Allow everything to cool and slowly add a few drops of lemon juice.
- Continue tasting and add more lemon juice if the syrup needs a little added tartness.
- Pour mixture into the jar and screw the lid on tightly.
Enjoy putting this homemade grenadine in many alcohol beverages. Often found paired in drinks with grenadine are maraschino cherries and we found the perfect recipe for you to use and impress your customers.
Making Your Own Maraschino Cherries
Now that we've made the grenadine for our mixed drinks, let's top them off with homemade maraschino cherries! Maraschino cherries and grenadine are the perfect pair needed in many alcoholic beverages. Maraschino cherries may not be something you would first think of making on your own. As it turns out, homemade maraschino cherries are also super easy to make. We have the perfect recipe for you to make your restaurant's own maraschino cherries, which are perfect to use as garnish on drinks like a Tequila Sunrise, a Shirley Temple, and a Cherry Smash.
Maraschino Cherry RecipeIngredients and Materials:
- Large stock pot
- Spoon for stirring
- Large container with lid
- 6 lbs of sweet cherries (pitted)
- 4 quarts of water
- 2 tablespoons of pickling salt
- Large saucepan
- 9 lbs of sugar
- 6 cups of water
- Juice from 2 lemons
- 2 ounces of almond extract
- Red food coloring (optional)
- Cinnamon stick (optional)
- Mason jars for storage
- Bring 4 quarts of water and pickling salt to a boil. Stir water until salt completely dissolves.
- Remove from stove and allow to cool (about 30 minutes).
- Place cherries in a large container and pour the salt water mixture over the cherries. Cover with lid and let sit for 12 hours.
- Next, strain cherries and rinse with cold water to wash off any leftover brine.
- Put cherries back in their large container.
- Combine sugar, water, lemon juice, and food coloring (if using) in large saucepan. Over medium heat, bring to a boil, and stir until sugar is dissolved.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool.
- Pour over cherries, add the cinnamon stick (if you would like), seal container, and let them soak for 24 hours.
- Drain cherries, but save the juice and put it back in your saucepan.
- Bring the juice in the pan to a boil, remove from heat, and stir in the almond extract.
- Ration cherries out into their jars, pour in juice (optional for added flavor), label, date, and store in the fridge.
These maraschino cherries will keep for up to 6 weeks when stored in the fridge. If you would prefer to preserve the cherries in jars by canning them, you can sterilize your jars before filling and seal them using a water bath.
Now that you have made four key ingredients to use behind your bar, try incorporating as many of them into as many different drinks as possible! Your customers will be sure to love the homemade bitters, simple syrup, grenadine, and maraschino cherries that you offer. Making your own bar ingredients will not only make your customers happier, but it is also a great way to cut costs for your establishment. Enjoy many different drinks made with these DIY cocktail ingredients!