Blood Orange Liqueur

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.

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Blood Orange Liqueur

8 blood oranges

4 cups vodka

2 cups sugar

Half-gallon wide mouth jar with lid.

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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.

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2.) Set aside the peel and juice the oranges.

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3.) Add vodka, sugar, juice, and peels into the jar and shake for 30 seconds.

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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.

Root Beer Liqueur

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I’m always on the lookout for new liqueurs to make. This one stuck out for me because I’d been reading The Art of Fermentation by Sandor Elix Katz, and was intrigued by the section on making your own roots beers. I am far far too chicken to brave making carbonated beverages at home (explosions, broken glass, blindness, a lifetime in darkness, etc…) so I decided to make a liqueur instead.

It was actually pretty easy finding the ingredients. I just biked down to my local home brew shop, and they were there for sale by the ounce. Although I got some funny looks from the burly, bearded brewmeisters when I told them I was making a root beer flavored liqueur. I tucked my tail between my legs and scuttled out of there fast.

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It didn’t wind up tasting all that much like the root beer I drank as a kid, but if you like strong, complex, herbal liqueurs, I recommend this one.

Root Beer Liqueur

Adapted from Serious Eats

3 cups water

1-teaspoon sassafras root bark

1-teaspoon birch bark

1-teaspoon sarsaparilla root bark

1 star anise

1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger

1 sprig mint

Peel of 1 lemon (just the zest, not the pith)

2 tablespoons brown sugar

¼ cup granulated sugar

1-teaspoon molasses

¼ teaspoon vanilla extract

1½ cups vodka

1.)   Combine water, barks, anise, ginger, mint, and lemon peel in a pot and boil until water reduces by half. Remove from heat and let steep for 2 hours.

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2.)   Place a sieve lined with cheesecloth over a clean pot and strain liquid into it. Add sugars and molasses to pot and bring to boil.

3.)   Remove from heat, add vanilla and allow to cool completely before adding vodka.

4.)   Store in a cool dark place, allowing flavors to combine for one month.

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