Want to add a new twist to an Old Fashioned, Manhattan, or other cocktail? Tired of using Angostura in every cocktail you make? Interested in getting a new twist on a classic cocktail? Using maple bitters instead of traditional aromatic bitters (such as Angostura) may be just what you need. These bitters provide a nice hint of maple and spice to any cocktail and provide a new spin on classic cocktail recipes. Very simple to make once you procure the ingredients (all of which can be purchased at fine grocery stores or from any number of online herbal vendors).

**Note: The ingredient list calls for Grade B maple syrup. Grade B maple syrup is not indicative of lower quality. Rather, maple syrup grading is tied to the color of the syrup. Grade A indicates a lighter, thinner syrup that tends to have weaker maple flavoring. Grade B indicates a darker, thicker syrup with stronger maple flavoring. Grade A syrup is great for pancakes, but generally not as good for cooking something where you want the maple flavor to shine through. That’s why most recipes where maple syrup is an ingredient call for Grade B. Also, make sure you are using real maple syrup, not the imitation stuff from the grocery store (e.g., Mrs. Butterworth, Aunt Jemima, Hungry Jack, Log Cabin); the label should say something like “100% pure maple syrup”.

  • Yield: 15 oz.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Total: 2 weeks
  • Active: 30 minutes

Ingredients (13)

  • 1 tsp fennel seed
  • 1 tsp cocoa nibs
  • 1 tsp roasted barley
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 tsp cassia chips (cinnamon)
  • 1/2 tsb whole cloves
  • 2 cardamom pods, crushed
  • 1 tsp gentian root
  • 1 tsp quassia bark chips
  • 1/2 tsp walnut leaves
  • 3/4 cup grade B maple syrup**
  • 1/3 cup + 1/2 cup rye whiskey
  • 1/3 cup Everclear (151 proof) (or, if not available, the highest proof vodka you can find)


  1. Place the fennel seed, cocoa nibs, roasted barley, vanilla bean scrapings, cassia chips, cloves, and cardamom pods in a 1 qt. mason jar. Add 1/3 cup of everclear. Place lid on jar and agitate to mix. This is the “spice” jar.
  2. Place the gentian root, quassia bark chips, and walnut leaves in a 1 qt. mason jar. Add 1/3 cup of rye whiskey. Place lid on jar and agitate to mix. This is the “bitter” jar.
  3. Place maple syrup in 1 quart mason jar. Add remaining 1/2 cup of rye whiskey. Place lid on jar and agitate to mix. This is your “flavor” jar.
  4. Place the jars in an area that is room temperature, preferably out of the light.
  5. Agitate the jars daily for two weeks.
  6. After the two weeks has passed, strain the ingredients from your spice jar and your bitter jar (separately) using cheese cloth or a fine mesh sieve to get out the large ingredient particles, and then strain each jar’s contents again (separately) with more cheese cloth or a coffee filter to get out the small particles.
  7. After filtering, it is time to combine the the leftover spirits from the three jars. There are two ways to do this: EITHER (A) The “careful method”: Combine the spirits from the three jars a bit at a time into a fourth jar so that you can play with the proportions to achieve exactly the flavor you want (this is the preferred method…add ingredients from each until all three flavor profiles are pronounced when tasting a few drops); OR (B) The “caution to the wind method”: Combine all spirits from the spice jar and the bitter jar into the flavor jar and mix together thoroughly. The “careful method” allows you to adjust the flavor to your desired preference. The “caution to the wind method” makes mixing simple, but may result in a bitter mixture with a very strong spice flavor (to the point of overpowering the maple and bitter flavors).
  8. Place the final mixture into brown dropper bottles or similar dispensing device to make it easier to add small amounts to cocktails.