The cheap $5 triple sec I put in my margaritas seemed sort of bland, but I didn't want to drop $30+ for Cointreau. I found something called Drillaud's Orange Liqueur, for about $16. It has a lot more flavor, but even that tends to disappear fast when margarita time comes around. Thus, after reading some threads here, I decided to make my own. Here's what happened:
Oranges: a blend of peels from 1 mineola, 1 mandarin, and 2 naval oranges (that's all I could find at the store the day I went shopping.) I peeled them very carefully with a harp vegetable peers, and I was able to get peels with almost no white stuff.
Infusing alcohol: I decided I didn't want to pussyfot around, so I dropped the peels in a 1 qt mason jar with 400 ml of Everclear. As you can see for the coverage of the peels in the mason jar, I probably didn't need quite that much everclear. I let the peels infuse for a week, and the result in in the first picture:
I then strained out the peels (second picture) and disposed of the highly flammable everclear-soaked peels in the charcoal fire outside.
I did my first dilution with 250 ml of 80 proof vodka, and then I added the balance of water to bring to alcoholic content to about 100 proof. At the point I added the water, the clear very orange tinted liquid did a louche! Like some kind of weird orange absinthe. I added a cup of sugar to adjust the flavor, and the result looked and tasted like a screwdriver. Not exactly what I was aiming for. What was curious was that after aging in the mason jar for a week or so, the liqueur developed some more complex flavors, but when I make a margarita with it, it still looks like a screwdriver. I does make a pretty potent margarita, though. I tried diluting down a small subsample to 30 proof, but the result wasn't very sweet, and, for that matter, the orange flavor wasn't as strong either.
Anyway, I made a quart of stuff that was interesting, but not exactly what I was looking for. Comment and discussion are appreciated.
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