DIY Rhubarb Bitters Recipe (2024)

Why It Works

  • Rhubarb pairs well with many other flavors, making this recipe highly customizable depending on your preferences.

Rhubarb is one of my favorite co*cktail ingredients. When rhubarb season arrived, I ran to buy as much as I could from the market that's usually first to get all the seasonal produce. When I couldn't find it, I went to the manager in a panic. "We used to stock that," he said. "But nobody likes it, so we stopped." I then dramatically flung myself onto the nearest support beam and screamed, "Noooooo!" as if I just found out Darth Vader was my father. (He is not.) Luckily, the next store had a whole display of rhubarb and promised me that they would keep stocking it throughout the season.

There isn't a co*cktail ingredient that doesn't benefit from a little rhubarb. Steep some rhubarb in almost any clear spirit, and you'll be rewarded with a bright and fresh tasting infused spirit.Rhubarb syrupwill rock your beverage world with its balance of sweet and sour, but I also like to get the tart, grassy flavor into my co*cktails by juicing or muddling it. Until recently, the only mixological frontier I hadn't yet rhubarb-ized was bitters, which is just insane since rhubarb bitters pair well with every spirit and complement sweet, sour, and bitter flavors alike.

What's Available To Buy

You may be limited with what's currently available off the shelf. Two brands are Fee Brothers orDillon's. Fee Brothers' rhubarb bitters are fairly easy to come by. They have a pronounced rhubarb and floral flavor that can add a lot to a co*cktail, but I find them a little on the sweet side and don't like that they contain artificial flavoring.

Why DIY?

Rhubarb bitters are fun to make because there's a lot of room for experimentation. Chop up some rhubarb, add a bittering element and whatever else you think will taste good with rhubarb. Try grapefruit peel and rose petals for a gentle, floral bitters, or use allspice or anise for something spicier. Then steep it in some alcohol and you, my friend, have artisan rhubarb bitters.

Rhubarb is in season right now, so most farmers markets and grocery stores have plenty of this gorgeous magenta vegetable available. Rhubarb bitters may be rare, but rhubarb sure isn't.

I was inspired by the flavor profile of a floral gin when I came up with the ingredients in the recipe. So I combined the rhubarb with chamomile, lavender, juniper, and coriander along with lemon and lime.

How to Use Rhubarb Bitters

I like to mix myhomemade grenadinewith sparkling water and top it off with a healthy dose of rhubarb bitters. A few dashes of your rhubarb bitters will also liven up a gin and tonic, glass of club soda, or iced tea.

Drop a sugar cube in a champagne flute, give it a generous dousing with your DIY rhubarb bitters, then top off with sparkling wine for a twist on the classic Champagne co*cktail. These bitters are especially delicious in Champagne co*cktails like theFrench 75.

Rhubarb bitters also go well in a cognac drink, likeJackson Cannon's Cold Spring co*cktail, which uses maple syrup as its sweetener.

And, while I personally don't want any rhubarb in my strawberry pie, I definitely do want it in my strawberry co*cktails.

A Note on Rhubarb Safety

Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should not be used for any recipes. Only use the pinkish-red stalks!

May 2012

Recipe Details

DIY Rhubarb Bitters

Active20 mins

Total384 hrs

Serves480 servings

Makes2 cups


  • 2 cupschopped rhubarb (red/pink stalks only, about 1 pound)

  • 1 tablespoon zest from 1 lime

  • 1 tablespoon zest from 1 lemon

  • 1 1/4 cups 100-proof vodka

  • 1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds

  • 3 juniper berries

  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender

  • 1 teaspoon dried chamomile

  • 1/2 teaspoon cut cinchona bark (not powdered, see note)

  • 1 teaspoon cut angelica root (see note)

  • 1/2 cup light rum

  • 1/2 cup water


  1. Add rhubarb, lime zest, and lemon zest to a quart-sized jar. Add the vodka, seal, shake, and let sit for four days.

  2. After four days, add coriander, juniper, fennel, lavender, chamomile, cinchona, angelica, and rum in second quart-sized jar. Seal, shake, and set both aside for 10 more days.

  3. After 10 days, strain the solids out of each jar, reserving the solids and liquids separately. Combine the strained solids with the water in a small saucepan and set aside. Combine the strained liquids in a single jar and set aside. Heat the solids and the water over medium heat until simmering, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to jar with liquids. Seal, shake, and set aside for another two days.

  4. Strain through sieve, pushing down to extract as much liquid as you can. Then bottle by filtering through a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Store at room temperature for up to a year.

Special Equipment

Two sealable glass jars, fine-mesh strainer, zester or peeler, coffee filter or cheesecloth


Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should not be used for any recipes. Only use the pinkish-red stalks. If you cannot find high-proof vodka, substitute 80-proof vodka. You can use 151-proof neutral spirits, if available to you. Cinchona bark and angelica root are often available at herb shops or Latin markets. You can also buy them online. Cinchona bark can also be used to make other bitters or homemade tonic. You can substitute all one bittering herb, if you only have one available to you.

  • Vodka
  • Rhubarb
DIY Rhubarb Bitters Recipe (2024)


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