PEACH PETITE BITTERS
2 dozen (24) peach kernels (freshly-cut from fresh peaches – use the flesh for other purposes, such as in peach pie)
3 cups (720 ml.) grain alcohol (190° or 95% a.b.v. is best, but in some places 151° or 75.5% a.b.v. will have to do)
3 cups pure water
Spread the fresh peach kernels out on a baking sheet. Roast them at 350° for ten minutes (this neutralizes the amygdalin found in the seed, which is itself found inside the kernel). Lower the temperature to 250° and continue roasting the kernels for as long as it takes to dry them completely. When roasted dry, let the kernels cool. Place the kernels in a very large canning jar. Pour in the grain alcohol. Let this preparation macerate for a fortnight (14 days), shaking vigorously once each day for maximum agitation. At the end of the fortnight’s maceration and agitation, finely strain off the macerated spirit and reserve it in a sealed jar or bottle. Reserve the macerated kernels in a bowl. Place the water in a large saucepan over heat. As soon as the water reaches full boil, remove from heat and add the reserved, macerated kernels. Cover and this preparation let it infuse until it is fully cool. Finely strain off the infused water and reserve it. Discard the kernels. Combine the macerated spirit with the infused water in a bowl. Stir thoroughly. The preparation is now worthy of being called bitters. Pour this into a pitcher. Let the bitters stand until any sediment collects at the bottom. Using a funnel, carefully pour the bitters into small bottles without allowing sediment into the them. Small bottles with dasher tops are advisable, such as washed, empty bitters bottles. Label the bitters. These bitters should have an alcoholic content of roughly 95° or 47.5% a.b.v. They will keep at room temperature as long as any (once-opened) bottle of spirits.
Note – since maceration in alcohol is best at extracting some compounds while infusion in water is best and extracting others, it is important to make bitters by combining a spirituous maceration with an aqueous infusion (of the same aromatic materials). For the maceration in spirits to be most effective, the aromatic substance must be as dry as possible, since water impedes efficacious maceration. For the same reason, spirits of the highest possible alcohol content are best, since lower proof spirits obviously contain more water. It is never advised to macerate for bitters using any vodka, whiskey or other common spirit at salable proof. Such a product may be fine as a flavored vodka or a flavored whiskey, but may not perform the aromatic function of bitters in a true cocktail – that is, the removal from the palate the experience of the harshness of alcohol.