Mandarin Orange Grapefruit Liqueur & the Four Muses Cocktail


One of my favorite ways to preserve citrus is by making boozy concoctions (you may have noticed) because the alcohol really captures the essence of the fruit flavor.  That, and if I am forced to by crappy or ridiculously expensive Triple Sec in July, I may loose my mind.  So yesterday I hustled over to the co-op to buy organic mandarins, oranges and grapefruits just for a batch of booze.  You’re welcome.

Preserving citrus in the winter is akin to preserving tomatoes in the summer.  It makes me panicky and anxious.  “Hurry up!” my brain pesters, “Before they taste terrible and go all pithy and bland.”  Both citrus and tomatoes contain that magical combination of tangy and sweet that disappears when they sit around to long. 

While you can certainly make this recipe with just oranges, like in this version of Navel Orange Liqueur, I think this mixed version is super interesting, adding much more complexity.  Mandarins in particular add a brightlights orange color and distinctive flavor to the batch.  Feel free to substitute your favorite citrus combo to change things up a bit.  That’s what seasonal cooking is all about.

Finally, I’ve included a snappy drink to accompany your liqueur when it’s ready.  This drink would be classified as a ‘New Orleans Sour’ cocktail by Gary Regan of the book The Joy of Mixology. (Thank you for the cookbook, Santa.) These drinks also are sometimes called “Daisy” cocktails. It’s a common formula found in the Margarita, Sidecar and Kamikaze of 3 parts spirits, 2 parts Triple Sec and 1 part sour citrus juice. 3-2-1 is so easy to remember! I call this cocktail the ‘Four Muses’, three muses for mandarin, orange and grapefruit in the liqueur, plus one more for the lime juice.  It’s guaranteed to inspire.

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