how to make cacao and coffee cocktail bitters recipe with coffee beans, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, and cacao nibs

Homemade Coffee & Cacao Cocktail Bitters | Booze with Benefits

Making your own cocktail bitters at home is so easy and fun! This coffee and cacao cocktail bitters recipe can be made with bourbon or rum and takes 10 minutes of your hands-on time. Plus, it’s not just for cocktails.

There are so many health benefits and ways to use these cocktail bitters. Add a nutritive botanical touch to your favorite rum or bourbon cocktails, add them to a glass of sparkling water for digestive support, bake with them, and more.

HERE YOU’LL FIND:
What are Cocktail Bitters?
The Health Benefits of Bitters
How to Make Coffee & Cacao Cocktail Bitters
Tips, Tricks, & FAQs
Homemade Coffee & Cacao Cocktail Bitters Recipe

coffee beans

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bottle of cacao and coffee cocktail bitters with coffee beans, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, and cacao nibs

What are Cocktail Bitters?

Have you ever been sitting at a bar and seen a row of tiny glass bottles all lined up? Or maybe you’ve been perusing a cocktail menu and have seen the word(s) bitters or dash of bitters listed in the cocktail descriptions?

Bitters are an essential tool in any mixologist’s kit. It’s hard to find a bar without at least one bottle of bitters. And while herbal bitters have a long history of medicinal use that has largely gone out of fashion, thankfully cocktail culture is helping bring them back into style.

Admittedly, there’s much less emphasis on the medicinal benefits of cocktail bitters than there is on the responsibility they take on in a mixed beverage.

Cocktail bitters, sometimes called digestive bitters or just bitters, are alcohol extracts of nutritive and medicinal plants with bitter qualities. These nutritive and medicinal plants may come in the form of leaves, flowers, roots, bark, and even fruit! Any botanical with bitter properties can be used to make bitters.

Cocktail Culture’s Use of Bitters

Oftentimes, bitters used in cocktails are crafted for flavors. You can find all kinds of artisan cocktail bitters on the market.

Perhaps two of the most famous and recognizable bitters are Angostura Bitters made with gentian and Peychaud’s Bitters made with licorice, saffron, and citrus peel.

Bitters are used for flavor in small amounts, often drops, dashes, and splashes. They’re used to bring balance and help create harmony amongst all the cocktail ingredients. Bitters can take a humdrum drink and turn it into a bonafide flavor explosion.

The Health Benefits of Bitters

First and foremost, bitters support healthy digestion. From the time a bitter substance hits your tongue to the time everything comes out the other end, bitters can help make sure that every little hormone, organ, and enzyme involved in digestion is present and ready for duty.

So Did My Cocktail Just Become Medicine?!

Not exactly. But adding bitters to cocktails does add a small health benefit and can help to stimulate digestion. If you’ve been following along long enough, you know what I say about digestion:

When our digestion is healthy, our bodies are better nourished. And when our bodies are nourished, we’re more resistant to inflammation and disease. Healthy digestion is a key factor in our overall quality of life!

Even if the cocktail bitters added to your drink help you better process the alcohol and other ingredients in your beverage, I think that’s beneficial enough! Alcohol is not medicine, but it can be an incredible delivery vehicle for medicinal plants when used in moderation.

Wanna dive deeper into the world of herbal bitters?! Check this out:
The Beginner’s Complete Guide to Herbal Digestive Bitters

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bottle of cacao and coffee cocktail bitters with coffee beans, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, and cacao nibs
bottle of cacao and coffee cocktail bitters with coffee beans, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, and cacao nibs

How to Make This Coffee & Cacao Cocktail Bitters Recipe

This coffee and cacao cocktail bitters recipe is incredibly simple and requires little more than a glass jar and at least 2 weeks of your patience!

Equipment You’ll Need:

  • Pint-sized Glass Jar with Lid (Canning jars or clean recycled jars will do!)
  • Mortar & Pestle (I find the unpolished granite mortar & pestles to be the most effective for grinding herbs.)
  • Fine Mesh Strainer + Cheesecloth or Muslin -or- Nut Milk/Strainer Bag* (I use these strainers for everything! And here’s my favorite nut milk bag.)
  • Small Funnel

*A NOTE ON USING NUT MILK BAGS TO STRAIN INFUSIONS: My personal preference for straining many different kinds of infusions is to use a nut milk bag. I’ve just had one too many frustrations with cheesecloth. You generally need to use several layers of it and it’s typically a single-use product. Nonetheless, several layers of it nested into a fine mesh strainer totally work. If choosing to use a nut milk bag, be sure to use one that’s made from organic cotton. So many of them on the market are plastic, and while they’ll get the job done, they can also leave behind funky chemicals and micro-plastics.

Ingredients:

Method

  1. Use your mortar and pestle to coarsely grind together the coffee beans, cacao nibs, cardamom pods, and black peppercorns.
  2. Add these coarsely ground items to a sterilized glass jar together with the remaining ingredients, then cover ingredients with the high-proof bourbon, filling the jar to the top, ensuring all ingredients are covered by the alcohol by about 1-2 inches.
  3. Seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid and be sure to label (with ingredients) and date your jar. Give the jar a vigorous shake and then place somewhere dark for at least 1-2 weeks and up to 6 weeks. Try to give the jar a shake once a day or as often as you remember for the best infusion.
  4. After at least 1-2 weeks (or up to 6), your cocktail bitters are ready to strain. Use an organic nut milk bag (or fine-mesh strainer nested into a funnel and several layers of cheesecloth) to strain the alcohol into another sterilized glass jar. Compost cacao, coffee, and other herbs when finished.
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Tips & Tricks & FAQs

How do you use cacao and coffee cocktail bitters?

Here are some of the many ways to use cacao and coffee cocktail bitters:

  • Add a few dashes to nearly any bourbon, brandy, or rum cocktail. These bitters generally go best with cocktails that aren’t fruity. Try using them in an Old-Fashioned or a Manhattan instead of Angostura bitters.
  • These bitters would go great in non-bourbon cocktails as well, such as an espresso martini or other coffee or chocolatey cocktails.
  • For an afternoon pick-me-up and a little digestive support, add a dash to a glass of soda water.
  • Be a boss and just squirt a few drops in your mouth before or after a meal for added digestive support. It’s helpful to store the bitters in a small glass dropper bottle for this purpose. (You can also mix in a small bit of water and shoot it.)
  • Bake with them! Use these cocktail bitters in place of vanilla extract in scones, cinnamon rolls, coffee cake, chocolate cake, and more!
  • Gift small decorative bottles of these cacao and coffee bitters to your mixologist or coffee-lovin’ friends! Homemade herbal bitters make great gifts that are so easy to personalize.

How should I bottle homemade cocktail bitters?

Store your cocktail bitters in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. A canning jar or clean recycled glass jar will do. Or you can bottle these cocktail bitters in glass dropper bottles for ease of use.

Here are some bottle and jar choices:

HOT TIP: Always label your herbal infusions with the date and ingredients! No matter how much you would swear on your life that you’ll remember what those unlabeled mystery jars and bottles are, I promise you that you won’t. Time will pass, your jar and bottle collection will grow, and soon you’ll end up with a collection of mystery herbal infusions that you can’t use because you can’t remember what’s in them. I speak from lots of experience and too much well-intentioned trust in my “good” memory.

Do bitters ever go bad?

Alcohol is an amazing preservative! And since you’re not using any fresh herbs or spices in this infusion, this cacao and coffee cocktail bitters recipe could last indefinitely. However, most herbalists would recommend that you store these bitters properly and use them within a year.

Store herbal bitters in glass jars with tight-fitting lids in a cool location out of direct sunlight. Should you ever notice unfavorable changes in appearance, taste, or smell, always discard and start over.

Do cocktail bitters need to be refrigerated?

Nope! That’s the magic of alcohol’s powers of preservation. Refrigeration is not necessary. However, it also wouldn’t hurt. If you wanted to prolong the shelf-life of your herbal bitters, refrigeration is helpful.

For more plant magic & herbal wellness in your life, be sure to follow along on ➡️ Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter, & snag my herbal 📚 eBooks Nourishing Herbal Gifts & Holiday Pies from the (Un)Bakery. 🌿 And please don’t forget to tag me in your snaps 📸 @_botanyculture_. I love to see all the plant magic you make happen!

Coffee & Cacao Cocktail Bitters

Course: Remedy, DrinksDifficulty: Easy
Quantity

1.5

cups
Prep time

10

minutes
Resting Time

2

weeks

This coffee and cacao cocktail bitters recipe can be made with bourbon or rum, takes 10 minutes of your hands-on time, and has so many health benefits and uses. Use these cocktail bitters to add a nutritive botanical touch to your favorite rum or bourbon cocktails, add them to a glass of sparkling water for digestive support, use them for flavor in baking, and more. The longer you let the liquor infuse, the stronger the flavor will be.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups high-proof bourbon or rum (80-proof or higher)

  • 1/3 cup coffee beans, coarsely ground

  • 3 tablespoons cacao nibs

  • 1 cinnamon stick

  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split

  • 6-8 green cardamom pods, cracked

  • 1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns, cracked

  • 3 tablespoons raw, local honey

  • 1 tablespoons blackstrap molasses

Directions

  • Use your mortar and pestle to coarsely grind together the coffee beans, cacao nibs, cardamom pods, and black peppercorns.
  • Add these coarsely ground items to a sterilized glass jar together with the remaining ingredients, then cover ingredients with the high-proof bourbon, filling the jar to the top, ensuring all ingredients are covered by the alcohol by about 1-2 inches.
  • Seal the jar with a tight-fitting lid and be sure to label (with ingredients) and date your jar. Give the jar a vigorous shake and then place somewhere dark for at least 1-2 weeks and up to 6 weeks.

    Try to give the jar a shake once a day or as often as you remember for the best infusion.
  • After at least 1-2 weeks (or up to 6), your cocktail bitters are ready to strain. Use an organic nut milk bag (or fine-mesh strainer nested into a funnel and several layers of cheesecloth) to strain the alcohol into another sterilized glass jar.

    Compost cacao, coffee, and other herbs when finished.
  • Stir in the blackstrap molasses and honey. Then store your cocktail bitters in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid (or glass dropper bottles for ease of use) at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Use within a year.

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how to make cacao and coffee cocktail bitters recipe with coffee beans, cinnamon sticks, vanilla pods, and cacao nibs

DISCLAIMER: The information given in this article is intended for educational purposes only. Always consult with your healthcare practitioner before consuming certain herbs & medicinal foods, especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking any prescription medications.

Find Organic Herbs & Spices at Mountain Rose Herbs

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