Bitters seem to be all the rage in any herb store or at local farmer’s markets. I have made a cacao based digestive bitter and a fruity thyroid support bitter. This was my first attempt at a “cocktail” bitter. We really don’t drink in my family. I will have to find some creative ways to use it up or give it to a friend who likes to experiment as a bartender for parties. I was inspired to make this due to an overabundance of sage and mugwort in the garden. Here we are in December. Both plants still have lots of lush, green growth that could be put to good use.
My ingredients of choice were fresh mugwort, dried orange peel, fresh sage, dried apricots, a vanilla bean, pecans, and dried gogi berries.
The base of any cocktail bitter recipe is….
1 part fresh herbs. Some amount of your choice of Bitter/Digestives-vervain, mugwort, angelica, lovage, or dandelion are possibilities. Other ones-sage, or rosemary
2 parts Everclear brand grain alcohol
Now this this is the artistic part where the herbalist gets to experiment with flavors and proportions. It is a very personal creation. Any good bitter contains some amount of the following…..
Dried fruit-cherries, apples, apricots, goji berries, golden raisins, figs
Frangrant spices-cardamon, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, vanilla bean, orange peel
Nuts-almonds, walnuts, peacans
As you chose think about which ingredients might pair well together. What level of sweetness, astringency or bitter appeals to your tastes. Consider favorite foods, smells, or memories.
Place all your ingredients in the appropriate size canning jar and seal with a lid.
Allow your bitter to sit 4-6 weeks. Then strain and bottle. Use as appropriate with personal discretion.
Sage is a shrubby perennial that is native to Europe. It grows well and overwinters even in my climate. In any garden that I have had it establishes itself as a “mother plant”. The stems are square, woody, long, finely haired and often leggy. With time and age my plants become less attractive but more productive in leaves. This herb can be sensitive. If you offend it, neglect it, damage it when harvesting-you may not see it the following year. The downy, oval shaped, crenated, opposite arranged leaves have a “sage” green color. The flowers are purple (sometimes white) tube shaped, two lipped, and grow widely spaced on terminal racemes. High in aromatic essential oils and botanical features clearly place it in the mint family.
Salvia is thought to be good for stress, depression, vertigo, hot flashes, digestive issues, gas, diarrhea, headaches, flu, congestion, menstrual problems, arthritis pain, blood clots, fever, and staph infections. She is a wonderful gargle for laryngitis, gum disease, bad breath, and sore throats. If you need to clear phlegm in any organ this plant is a good choice. As a bath Sage has been used externally to address eczema, insect bites, wounds, acne, rashes, and poison ivy/oak, dandruff, and vaginal discharge. There is a long history of using this plant as a symbol of wisdom, clarity, longevity, purification and protection. I like hanging bundles of the fresh herb in my house, washing the floors with the tea, or burning dried leaves to clean out energy from a space.
Parts used: Leaves
Energetics:bitter, dry, pungent, warming
Spiritual/Emotional Uses-to remove negative energy, disturbances and bad luck. Helpful when one is struggling with the natural process of aging.
Contraindications:Large does in pregnancy. Do not use while nursing as it may dry up your milk supply. Do not use in therapeutic doses long term