Finally, I came to the end of the labor-intensive process. The orange bitters had steeped, it had been crushed, it had been filtered, it had rested.
The last stage had involved mixing together the high-octane orange peel-infused alcohol with water and finally with sugar that had been melted into a brown, taffy-like goo. When I added the hot molten sugar to the mother liquid, it sputtered like a mini-Vesuvius. The recipe warned that the sugar might turn hard, at first, but then would quickly enter a liquid state.
And it all came to pass. Except for one thing. The final liquid never became clear.
It tastes exactly like orange bitters. Exactly. It is, in all ways save visually, an authentic orange bitters. Yet it longs for clarity, like a merlot longs to be a clear shade of magenta.
I will be calling on a few winemakers to find out about fining. Surely there is some remaining alchemy I can try. If not, I will need to turn my attentions to some other artisanal creation.