Makes about 20 ounces
Peels from 6 medium to large apples, preferably organic
Zest of 1/2 lemon, cut into strips with a paring knife
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
1/2 teaspoon cassia chips
1/2 teaspoon cinchona bark
2 cups high-proof bourbon, or more as needed
1 cup water
2 tablespoons rich syrup (see below)
Place all of the ingredients except for the bourbon, water, and rich syrup in a quart-sized Mason jar or other large glass container with a lid. Pour in the 2 cups of bourbon, adding more if necessary so that all the ingredients are covered. Seal the jar and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 2 weeks, shaking the jar once a day.
After 2 weeks, strain the liquid through a cheesecloth-lined funnel into a clean quart-sized jar to remove the solids. Repeat until all of the sediment has been filtered out. Squeeze the cheesecloth over the jar to release any excess liquid and transfer the solids to a small saucepan. Cover the jar and set aside.
Cover the solids in the saucepan with the water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover the saucepan, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool completely. Once cooled, add the contents of the saucepan (both liquid and solids) to another quart-sized Mason jar. Cover the jar and store at room temperature out of direct sunlight for 1 week, shaking the jar daily.
After 1 week, strain the jar with the liquid and solids through a cheesecloth-lined funnel into a clean quart-sized Mason jar. Repeat until all of the sediment has been filtered out. Discard the solids. Add this liquid to the jar containing the original bourbon solution.
Add the rich syrup to the jar and stir to incorporate, then cover and shake to fully dissolve the syrup.
Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for 3 days. At the end of the 3 days, skim off any debris that floats to the surface and pour the mixture through a cheesecloth-lined funnel one last time to remove any solids.
Using a funnel, decant the bitters into smaller jars and label. If there’s any sediment left in the bottles, or if the liquid is cloudy, give the bottle a shake before using. The bitters will last indefinitely, but for optimum flavor use within a year.
Makes 1 1/2 cups
2 cups demerra or turbinado sugar
1 cup water
In a medium saucepan bring the sugar and water to a simmer, stirring the mixture occasionally to dissolve the sugar. At the first crack of a boil, remove from the heat. Let cool completely, then store the syrup in a glass jar with a lid. The syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.