makes about 18 ounces
start to finish: 4 weeks
8 ounces minced, dried orange peel
1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds (removed from their pods)
1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon quassia (bitter ash) chips
1/2 teaspoon powdered cinchona bark
1/4 teaspoon gentian root (yellow gentian)
2 cups unflavored grain alcohol
4 1/2 cups water, divided
1 cup sugar
Place the peel, cardamom, caraway, coriander, quassia, cinchona bark, gentian, grain alcohol, and 1/2 cup water into a half-gallon mason jar and push the ingredients down so that they are covered by the alcohol and water. Seal the jar.
Shake the jar vigorously once a day for fourteen days.
On the fourteenth day, strain the alcohol through a cheesecloth. Gather the ends of the cheesecloth to form a pouch and squeeze, extracting as much alcohol as possible. Place the strained spice mixture in a mixing bowl or mortar. Reserve the alcohol in a clean mason jar and seal tightly. Set this aside until needed the following week.
Muddle the spices with a pestle or wooden spoon until the seeds are broken. Place them in a saucepan and cover with 3 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and reduce heat simmering for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool covered, for one hour. Return the dry ingredients and water to the original jar that contained the alcohol, seal, and leave for seven days, shaking vigorously once a day.
On the seventh day, strain the water from the dry ingredients through a cheesecloth. Discard the dry ingredients and add the infused water to the alcohol you reserved earlier in the process.
Put the sugar in a small saucepan and place over a medium-high heat. Stir constantly until the sugar becomes liquid and turns dark brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool for two minutes. Pour the syrup into the alcohol mixture. At this point the sugar may solidify, but it will quickly dissolve.
Allow the mixture to stand for seven days. Skim off any bits that float to the surface and carefully decant the clear liquid to separate it from any sediment resting on the bottom.
Measure the bitters; there should be about 12 fluid ounces. Add 6 ounces of water and shake vigorously.
Pour the bitters into a bitters bottle. Store at room temperature for up to twelve months.