Originally By Tony Ackland
Citrus LiqueursWal writes ...
Traditionally Limoncello and Agrumino were made by Italian Amalfi families using handed down recipes originally for private consumption. Here are two recipes.
Limoncello (aka limoncino, limonce):
CampariCame across a recipe on an Italian site that possibly resembles Campari. Originally, Campari was the Milan based firm's house bitters. It was launched commercially in 1893.
Curacao or Triple SecThe Dutch not only made gin using juniper berries but also in the 17th century their firms started using bitter orange (Seville orange) peels from the island Curacao in the West Indies. The peel of bitter oranges (with blossoms and leaves) were macerated in alcohol and redistilled to release their essential oils. This was then blended with neutral spirit or brandy and sugar added.
The French emulated this and use the term triple-sec for their orange based liqueurs. Although it means triple-dry, most are very sweet. Cointreau uses bitter and sweet orange peels. Grand Marnier uses only bitter orange peels but this is blended with cognac and sugar and then aged. Many of these triple-secs have their inevitable secret ingredients.The literature says that for curacao/triple sec the orange peels should be infused in high strength alcohol and then redistilled - in a pot still I would imagine. It is then blended with water, neutral spirit or cognac. Grand Marnier is further aged in oak.
I have searched the internet for curacao/triple-sec recipes.
"The Houehold Cyclopedia" (1881) suggests redistilling 60g of fresh peel in a litre of proof alcohol and 400ml water (see orange cordial recipe p.18).
A French site suggests redistilling 165g of peel (doesn't say whether fresh or dry) in a litre of proof alcohol and 250ml of water.
Also here is a scaled down version of their Curacao recipe:
I suppose you could use a pure essential orange oil which is usually used in the proportion of 14 drops (1/2 tsp) per litre of alcohol. The orange oil could be also used to adjust your own orange distillate.
You could introduce more complexity by making an orange wine (or mash) and then distilling with added peels. A recipe for 1 gallon U.S. (4 L) :
If you can get orange juice without preservatives you could use 1/2 juice and 1/2 water for 1kg of sugar instead of whole oranges.
An orange liqueur recipe can also be made by solely macerating the peel in the manner of Limoncello (6 lemons / 3 cups vodka,sugar, added water to dilute to 30%abv).
To make 1 litre (1 qt) Orange Liqueur:
Orange Bitters is a common ingredient in classic cocktails, but can be hard to find. Here is a recipe to make your own:
Mashes do contribute to flavor. One quickly tires of drinking watered down 95.7% neutral spirit, and adding flavors lacks the complexities that mashes give. Even an unoaked single malt spirit tastes great. Dutch gins used malted grain mash that was double distilled. The botanicals were incorporated in the second distillation. A reflux column which produces 80%abv could do this in one hit. I personally prefer flavor complexity over alcohol purity as this requires more artistry (I have nothing against technomania though).
I made a lemon vodka from a mash of 25 lemons (peel & juice), 5kg sugar, 25l water. The lemon flavor came across my reflux still which produces 75%abv. I did an orange vodka using 15 oranges (peel & juice). The flavor came across also.
Looking for a present to give for Xmas? What about this visually impressive citrus drink.
Parfait AmourFood and drink reflect the values held by a society, and as values change so do these lifestyle products. These days we give our drinks direct names like 'sex on the beach', 'slow screw' etc. In the 18th century there were liqueurs that were intended for "stimulating the erotic impulses with artful concoctions of spices and flowers mixed with the alcohol. Parfait Amour liqueur is really the only surviving link to that noble tradition." ('Spirits & Liqueurs Cookbook')
Parfait Amour (Perfect Love), is apparently Dutch in origin and is presently made by Dutch and French companies. There was once a red version, but now only the blue version remains. It is flavored with violets, lemons, and a mixture of cloves and other spices. The botanicals are macrated in alcohol and then re-distilled. The blue color is achieved with a vegetable dye. Here is a redacted recipefrom French sites, reduced to 1 litre :
20 g citron peel
10 g lemon peel
1.25 g cloves
1 litre alcohol (85%bv)
250 ml water
Macerate (steep) then redistill
200 g violet petals
1 litre redistilled alcohol (stage 1, diluted to 40%bv)
500 g sugar (2 cups)
1 cup water
Make sugar syrup from sugar and water. Alow to cool. Macerate petals in alcohol until desired color is achieved. Strain and add syrup. Bottle.
Rose petals for a 'Rosolio' and violets for 'Parfait Amour' were mentioned earlier. The 'Parfait Amour' is colored blue. I looked up my herb book and found that 'Cornflower' flowers (Centaurea cyanus) and the stems and leaves of 'Meadowsweet' (Filipendula ulmaria) will give a natural blue color. I gather then that violets themselves will not, and steeping for 5 minutes is sufficient for flavoring purposes. Meadowsweet roots will also give black, while the tops a green-yellow. Other aromatic flowers mentioned in recipes are jasmine, orange blossom, elderflower, rosemary flowers, and lavender flowers. About 1 and 1/2 cups of flowers for 1 and 1/2 cups alcohol seems to be the norm.