To make those perfect Margaritas you need very good quality Orange Liqueurs such as Cointreau. Unfortunately, a bottle of Cointreau costs around Rs.3000/- in India which is really atrocious. During our last outing with friends, we had some amazing stock of Tequila but no Cointreau ( and the outcome was cocktails with fruit juices alone that spoiled good grade Tequila)
That’s when I decided to make my own Orange liqueur at home. I found a lot of recipes for homemade orange liqueur or triple sec and after a couple of trials with them, this Indianised version was derived.
Orange Liqueur Recipe
Here’s how you make orange liqueur at home for less than Rs. 300/- for a bottle.
What you need?
- A glass jar with a tight lid (I got the one in picture for just Rs.70/- from SPAR)
- Two or three Navel Oranges
- Cloves – 2
- A quarter bottle of Vodka (Smirnoff) – 180ml
- A quarter bottle of Brandy (Mansion House works well) – 180ml
- Sugar – 1½ cups
- Water – 1¼ cup (300ml)
Warning: The whole process takes very less effort but the wait is about 24 days. But I got to tell you that the stuff is worth the wait.
Wash the oranges very well in lukewarm water (rub well while doing so) to de-wax them. If you are abroad you can use veggie wash. It is very important to wash oranges thoroughly since you are going to use the zest of oranges in this recipe. Wipe them thoroughly with a clean towel and let the remaining moisture dry off naturally for the next 20 or 30 minutes.
Next, you have to remove the zest from the orange by using a vegetable peeler, zester or grater. I used a vegetable peeler though I had a zester. Basically, you need to take care of NOT including the white part of the peel which may make the liqueur very bitter at the end.
Next throw the zest into the clean (and dry) glass jar and pour the vodka into it followed by the brandy. Close the jar tight and shake lightly so that the zest is all immersed well in the spirit.
(By the way, I used Romanov brand of cheap Vodka this time though Smirnoff is better. You don’t need to go for other expensive brands as the orange zest will anyhow change the spirit’s taste)
For the next three weeks you have to store it in a dark place taking it every other day and gently shaking to help the orange zest flavor mix in the spirit well.
After 3 weeks (22nd day)
Add a couple of cloves into the jar and keep it back in the dark place for another day.
Filter the jar content well and pour it into an empty spirit bottle (e.g. An empty brandy or whiskey full bottle but NOT washed). The best way to filter is to first filter it via a clean and dry strainer and further via a coffee filter paper. If you don’t get (i.e. Indian context), you may even use a couple of tea bags (with tea emptied) and placed in the strainer to filter the content very well without any remains of zest whatsoever.
Next, we have to make sugar syrup. In a clean pan pour water and add the sugar. Bring it to a boil while stirring occasionally. Let it boil for about 3-4 minutes and then allow it to cool naturally.
Using a funnel add this syrup into the spirit bottle, close the bottle and shake well.
Your Orange Liqueur is almost ready. You have to let it rest for a day before you can use it. This liqueur has a shelf life of at least three to four months and you don’t need to refrigerate it (As per many recipe sites. By the way, I am yet to verify the shelf life)
The color of the liqueur will be golden orange provided you use clear sugar (brands such as Parry’s).
Let’s party! This liqueur prepared at home is extremely good to mix the classic 3-2-1 Margarita. The alcohol strength will be around 25% and 600 ml liqueur prepared using this recipe should be good enough for mixing around 20 Margaritas. Not bad huh? I in fact, mixed a good one tonight with a cheap brand Tequila, still it was heavenly.
Cheers! And let me know how your experiment went. In fact, it is very very easy to make this orange liqueur at home though my explanation probably made it sound like rocket science. By the way, there are other easier recipes as well.