Burned orange bitters. Awesome in cocktails, lemonade, french toast, baking, added to ice cream (or anything sweet) and occasionally added to beer in our house. This intense citrus punch adds the essence of orange while also adding a touch of smoke and deeper flavors from the charring process.

We’ve made this recipe with oranges, lemons and limes and know that it would work with any type of citrus that you’d like. It works best if you’re using thick-skinned fruit as the thicker pith will pack more flavor and more oil. If you don’t have a blowtorch, don’t despair – we have successfully charred the pith in a dry frying pan over medium-high heat (stir constantly for 5-10 minutes until the pith is dark and charred). Most will prefer to use an organic fruit as you’re using the pith and skin in the recipe.

There are two keys to making burned orange bitters:

  1. Remove the zest before charring (you’ll see that we add it to the bottom of the jar). This is because the zest has a lot of oil/flavoiur and will not char as well as the pith.
  2. Use a high-percentage alcohol for the infusion. The highest-proof neutral-grain (i.e. minimal flavour) booze we can easily get in Ontario is a 124-proof (62%) un-aged white rum that we use for a lot of our bitters.

If you are comfortable using a blowtorch you can char the pith quickly by placing it in a cast-iron pan and torching it. It smokes a small bit (not enough to set off a fire alarm) and will not burn).

Burned Orange Bitters Recipe

Burned Orange Bitters used for cocktails, baking or adding a punch of citrus to anything

Author: Joel MacCharles

Recipe type: Infusion


  • 5-6 oranges.
  • 1.5-2 cups high proof neutral grain alcohol (as described above).
  • Vegetable peeler,clean jar with lid.


  1. Wash the fruit and use the vegetable peeler to remove as much of the zest as you can. Place zest in bottom of jar, loosely.
  2. Remove pith and place in cast-iron pot. Char on all sides until dark with a blowtorch (or pan-char as described above).
  3. While still warm, transfer pith to jar and add 1 cup rum. Use a wooden spoon to press the pith and zest into the bottom (you can add more pith at this point if you have extra).
  4. Finish by topping with additional booze.
  5. Cover and leave in a cool-dark place for 10 days before using. You can store on a shelf with or without the pith though it will absorb more booze with time. It will darked to the colour of bourbon. If you remove the pith, place it in a bowl and press on it to remove any additional flavor and add that back to the jar.

A giant shout-out to our friend AJ Messier of Hogtown Studios in Toronto for working with us to shoot this months photos. He let us take over his studio for a day (I made a HECK of a mess!) and the 3 of us had a blast shooting and are so grateful for his talent and friendship. AJ often shoots sports, motion, weddings and other topics – head over to his site and check out his work!

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