Sage Cocktail Bitters

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.

Sage Bitters

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

Published by blackbirdsbackyard

My backyard botanical pharmacy is located in Boulder Colorado. I began studying herbal medicinewhen I was 12 years old. In college I studied subjects like anthropology, microbiology, anatomy and physiology, After graduation I decided to go to midwifery school. I attended births and had a small practice until I retired early in order to be a mother full time. I have always had an herb garden, gathered plants and made my own healing formulas with plants. Over the last 30 years there have been many teachers and I have attended dozens of workshops. I am one of those people who is always reading, studying and learning. In 2019 I was called to practice as an herbalist professionally, using "plant spirit medicine" and bio-energetic ( 5 element)healing techniques. I feel that there is a big need in the community for my skills and talents. I hope to inspire others to start their own backyard pharmacies as a solution to species extinction and the healthcare crisis in America. Healing has also become a spiritual practice and way for me to feel balanced and connected with nature. I consult with clients in person, teach classes (adults and kids), give tours of my garden and offer apprenticeships. Health, joy, meaning, and support are everyone's birthright.

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