Maple-Cardamom Old Fashioned Bitters Recipe on Food52 (2024)


by: Julie



4 Ratings

  • Makes 1 drink

Jump to Recipe

Author Notes

This loose interpretation of an old fashioned came out of an improvisation when I ran out of maraschino cherries, but it definitely holds its own against the original. The flavors are especially suited to fall and winter, but I enjoy them year-round!

While you can use store-bought bitters, I highly recommend using the recipe below. I think the addition of a little cinnamon adds warmth that works really well with this drink. —Julie

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Julie has been a member of the Food52 community for the past year.
WHAT: An old fashioned redux with homemade bitters.
HOW: For a drink worthy of Don Draper, combine cardamom bitters with bourbon and maple syrup in a rocks glass, then add ice and garnish with an orange twist.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This updated old fashioned is smoother and slightly sweeter than its predecessor, using maple syrup instead of the classic sugar cube. The homemade bitters bump this recipe up another notch, enriching the whiskey with a warm, spicy-sweet kick. If you need us, you'll find us curled up with a glass by the fireplace. —The Editors

  • Test Kitchen-Approved

What You'll Need

  • For the old fashioned:
  • 2 ouncesbourbon
  • 1 scant teaspoonsmaple syrup
  • 1 dashcardamom bitters (see recipe below, or use store-bought)
  • Ice, to serve
  • 1 twist orange peel, for garnish
  • For the cardamom bitters:
  • 1 heaping tablespoon cardamom pods, crushed slightly
  • one 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup100 proof vodka
  1. For the old fashioned:
  2. In a rocks glass, stir together the bourbon and maple syrup.
  3. Top with bitters and ice and stir once or twice more.
  4. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.
  1. For the cardamom bitters:
  2. In a mason jar or container with a tight-fitting lid, cover cardamom pods and cinnamon stick with vodka. Secure lid and let sit at room temperature for 5 to 7 days.
  3. Strain and discard cardamom and cinnamon. Store bitters at room temperature.


  • co*cktail
  • American
  • Vodka
  • Maple Syrup
  • Cardamom
  • Bourbon
  • Fall
  • Christmas
  • Thanksgiving
  • Winter
  • Drink
Contest Entries
  • Your Best co*cktail

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • mizerychik

  • JulieS

  • BocaCindi

  • Graeme Taylor

  • suzannac

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12 Reviews

mizerychik December 19, 2021

What makes these bitters actually bitter? The recipe seems like you're making spiced vodka, not bitters here. Do the spices bitter as they steep?

Julie December 20, 2021

I left out a bittering agent in favor of ingredients that are easier to come by. The flavor is strong and aromatic and only slightly bitter from the concentration of spices.

Nina November 16, 2017

Would it work to use store bought Cardamon bitters if you don't have time to make your own?

JulieS March 17, 2017

I can't wait to make this! I have some Wood's Bourbon Maple Syrup that would be killer in this!

BocaCindi January 22, 2017

The cardamom bitters jar is so fragrant even after day two. Had pods and forgot to crush, so put in 1/4 tsp cardamom seeds in addition to pods. Can't wait to try this in a few days.

BocaCindi March 17, 2017

I absolutely love this drink.

Megan May 26, 2016

This sounds delicious, an interesting twist on my favorite drink, how long should the bitters last?

Julie May 26, 2016

Hi Megan - indefinitely, as far as I can tell. There's nothing in there that will go rancid, so it's just a matter of flavor. Mine are almost two years old and still going strong!

Graeme T. May 18, 2015

I make old fashioned a lot, both with Bourbon and Scotch whisky and love the idea of making my own bitters, especially with those two special ingredients.

suzannac April 14, 2015

This is a lovely co*cktail. The homemade bitters really add a nice spicy finish. My only suggestion would be a little less maple -- but that might be my own personal taste preferences.

LeBec F. April 12, 2015

julie, nice job! i know zilch about hard liquor. Can white rum also be used to make bitters- instead of vodka? the reason i ask this question is:

Julie April 13, 2015

Sure - you should be able to use any hard liquor to make bitters, the higher proof the better. It'll alter the flavor a little but that's not necessarily a bad thing!

Maple-Cardamom Old Fashioned Bitters Recipe on Food52 (2024)


What do you do with cardamom bitters? ›

Try it in tea, coffee, desserts, or use alone as a natural breath freshener. Add a few dashes to a whiskey co*cktail for a divine take on the classic Old-Fashioned. Strongwater Golden bitters is an exotic twist on the traditional aromatic bitters and one of our most versatile flavors.

How do you use Old Fashioned bitters? ›

An Old Fashioned calls for two to three dashes of bitters—no more, no less—that are added to the glass once the sugar or simple syrup is in. While the amount seems small, having too many or too few dashes can dramatically change the taste makeup of the drink. The type and quality of bitters matters too.

What is bitters in an Old Fashioned? ›

Angostura bitters are a necessary ingredient for creating co*cktails like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned. What Do Angostura Bitters Taste Like? Angostura bitters have a spicy flavor with hints of clove and cinnamon.

What is maple bitters? ›

These bitters are made in a traditional manner with all natural herbs and root extracts infused in alcohol but delivered in a maple base. They possess a certain kind of magic in that a few drops make all co*cktails better.

What does cardamom do for the liver? ›

The liver is a powerhouse organ. So, it's important that it stays in tip-top shape to ensure that it's capable of handling the many functions it's tasked with. Cardamom can help in doing so, as it has been shown to reduce liver fat, lower liver stress, prevent liver enlargement and simply improve overall liver health.

What is the effect of cardamom on liver? ›

Although there is a lack of scientific evidence to confirm this benefit, cardamom does appear to have some helpful effects on the liver, which plays a crucial role in removing toxins from the body. One study involved people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease who were overweight or had obesity.

Do bitters need to be refrigerated? ›

However, there's no need to refrigerate bitters. Even though there are organic compounds in bitters, the amount of alcohol acts as a natural sterilizer and preservation agent. So, feel free to leave it on your bar cart or in your liquor storage cabinets without having to worry.

When should bitters be avoided? ›

People who are pregnant and breastfeeding shouldn't take bitters. They also shouldn't be given to children as they often are infused in alcohol. People who have gastrointestinal disease shouldn't take bitters as they might irritate your digestive system.

Do Old Fashioned bitters go bad? ›

How Long Do Bitters Last? While we hate to see a bottle of bitters collecting dust on your home bar they do last indefinitely. They are bottled at about 70 proof or 35% alcohol, so they are perfectly preserved. However, it is possible that the flavor will change over time.

Why aren t bitters illegal? ›

A: All co*cktail bitters contain alcohol--quite a lot by volume--but they are considered a "non-potable" product, which is why their sale is not restricted, just like anyone can buy flavored extracts (like vanilla), which also contain alcohol but aren't meant for direct consumption.

How many drops of bitters are in an Old Fashioned? ›

With bitters, a little bit goes a long way. Two or three drops will add much depth to your Old Fashioned.

What does bitters do to your body? ›

The reason why people take digestive bitters is to aid their digestion and help mitigate symptoms of indigestion. A 2021 review of studies in Nutrients found that bitters can help with regulating hormones related to gut health and can increase gut motility (i.e., how foods move through our digestive system).

Can you drink bitters straight? ›

Just because you're "not supposed to" drink bitters straight doesn't mean you can't. It might not taste great, but it'll get the job done.

Are bitters good for your liver? ›

Because of the gut-brain connection, not only can bitters enhance digestion, but they can reduce depression and improve mood. They also support your liver's natural detoxification processes, and thus can improve skin health.

What are the main uses of cardamom? ›

Cardamom is an herb that is often used as a spice in foods. The seeds and the oil from the seeds are sometimes used to make medicine. Cardamom contains chemicals that might kill some bacteria, reduce swelling, and help the immune system.

What does cardamom go best with? ›

Cardamom harmonizes beautifully with warming spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, to infuse dishes with captivating essence.

How to use cardamom for flat tummy? ›

All you need to do is to crush the cardamom pod and extract seeds from it. Now add the pod peel and seeds in a glassful of water and leave it overnight. Drink it first thing in the morning to make the most of it. You could also use cardamom powder instead of the pods.


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