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Coronal Bitters: Hellfire Evolved

Posted by Reese on 2009-04-17 @ 09:05pm

As I mentioned in my MxMo post on the Fire Island Daiquiri I’ve been steeping a new batch of Hellfire Bitters for the past couple weeks.  The recipe I used is the same that I used for my first batch, but I changed it up a bit.  When I made these bitters the first time I used Thai chiles and the resulting bitters were warm, but not scalding hot.  For the Fire Island Daiquiri I used about 4-5 dashes to achieve the level of heat I was after.

Hellfire Bitters Brewing

While this isn’t a bad thing per se, it does present one possible problem.  When you start to use that amount of bitters in a drink you run the risk of having the bitters overpower the other flavor.  Remember, bitters are like cocktail spices.  They should be used in moderation.  So, the obvious solution was to up the heat quotient of the chiles involved.  For this new batch I went with all habaneros.  To give you a frame of reference a jalapeno chile ranks about 2,500 – 8,000 on the Scoville scale.  Thai chiles rank about 50,000 – 100,000.  Habaneros come in at 100,000 – 300,000.  Now we’re talking about serious, not screwing around, levels of heat.  With this modification the recipe is:

Coronal Bitters
18 Habanero Chiles (Quartered)
2 Limes (Cut in Eighths)
2 Tbsp Molasses
1/2 tsp Red Cinchona Bark Powder
16 Allspice Berries (Crushed)
2 Cups 100 Proof Vodka
1) Combine all ingredients in a glass jar
2) Steep for 10 days
3) Strain, filter, then bottle

The resulting bitters are hot.  Seriously, seriously hot.  For my first cocktail with them I mixed up a Fire Island Daiquiri and added a single dash of the bitters.  The heat level was perfect.  So now I have two chile bitters to work with.  One that will add very subtle heat and can be used for those who don’t like spiciness as much and another batch that can be used to add true fire to a cocktail when needed.


Seeing as these bitters are so much hotter than their predecessor I felt a name change was required.  As I mentioned these bitters are crazy hot, like surface of the sun hot.  Or, more geekily, as hot as the Sun’s corona.  Which, for those of you playing along at home runs between 1,000,000 to 3,000,000 degrees Kelvin.

If you haven’t tried making your own bitters yet it’s worth doing.  It really is simpler than it seems on the surface and the results are surprisingly good.