The first time I’d even heard of blood oranges I was in Rome on a school choir trip my senior year of high school. We had a free hour before dinner, and I’d tagged along with the coolest kids in my grade to the corner store for vodka mixers for a hotel room party. One of the girls bought a container of blood orange juice and it seemed proof positive of their cool superiority: they didn’t just drink screwdrivers, they drank blood orange screwdrivers.
I never actually got to taste it. It was a sopranos only party. This turned out to be a good thing because at the party one boy dropped a bottle of vodka down seven stories from the window and almost killed someone. Half the kids there got suspended. So for once being a loser stick-in-the-mud turned out to be to my benefit.
But who am I kidding…I still wish I’d been invited to that party. Blood orange screwdrivers, the popular kids, and nearness to manslaughter…it would’ve been the best night of high school. And probably also the worst. It would’ve made a better story all the same.
This liqueur is silky and sweet with a little hint of bitterness just to keep things interesting. The burnt umber color lights up the room and I’m looking forward to the bridal shower I’m throwing in May so I can make up a gorgeous blood orange punch.
This recipe isn’t difficult but it is arduous. I’ve got an electric citrus juicer and I was still stiff-muscled in the wrists the next day. Juicing zested oranges is a serious pain.
Make sure you keep it infusing for the full six weeks. It makes the vodka nice and silky.
Blood Orange Liqueur
8 blood oranges
4 cups vodka
2 cups sugar
Half-gallon wide mouth jar with lid.
1.) Wash and dry the oranges thoroughly. Peel off the zest with your best peeler, peeling off the strips as long and thick as possible so it’s easy to scrape any pith off with a paring knife when you’re done.
2.) Set aside the peel and juice the oranges.
3.) Add vodka, sugar, juice, and peels into the jar and shake for 30 seconds.
4.) Put jar in a cool dark place for 6 weeks and shake once a week.
5.) Strain the mixture first through cheesecloth, and then through a coffee filter into a swing top glass bottle.