Last Thursday, I hosted a workshop on making cocktail bitters at San Francisco’s Museum of Craft and Design.


We sold out all 60 tickets, the crowd was in high spirits throughout the night, and everyone seemed excited by what they made, so I’m already pondering venues to teach DIY Bitters again.


Upon arrival, attendees grabbed a champagne cocktail made with bitters-infused sugar cubes (I’ll post a tutorial soon), and checked out the museum store.01lectureSplit into four groups of 15, and we started off with a quick overview, while I handed out homemade bourbon caramels topped with peach bitters infused sea salt and dehydrated lemon (I’ll post a recipe eventually).


Station One was set up for R+D with about 20 dropper bottles of intense herbal and fruit infusions to sample, blend and taste according to guidelines laid out in their booklets.02rand1

Sparkling water and ginger ale were available for tasting, because 151 proof spirits and bitter herbs directly applied to the human tongue is not a pleasant experience.


People seemed to really get a kick out of my suggestion that they put a drop on their palm, rub their hands together rapidly to burn off the alcohol, then awkwardly sniff their hands in public to get a sense of the aromatics.


Once each cocktail scholar had settled on a perfect flavor combination, they moved along to the blending station where they were given an etched dropper bottle and guided through turning their recipe into a personalized batch of bitters to take home.


On their way out, several people stopped to share their bitters with me, either from pride in their accomplishment or fear that they had done something wrong, and I was overwhelmingly impressed by the outcomes.


Overall, I had a wonderful time, the other 60 people seemed to have a lot of fun, and I may go into business making caramels.11bottles

All photos by Samuel Abhaya. Thanks to Lilliana and the rest of the MCD staff for inviting me to create the workshop and for coordinating such an excellent event!

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  1. Wish I could have attended! Please, please, start a business making caramels, I will buy loads…

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