Introduction: Let's Make Orange Liqueur (Quickly)
I like having a (semi) stocked bar at the house. However, the trouble lies with paying for quality ingredients. Getting quality means paying for quality which can add up. So that leads me to make my own items to keep my bar stocked without breaking the bank.
I like to see how the community of people, mixologists, and bartenders make their own rendition of bitters, vermouths, tinctures, liqueurs, etc. If you haven't seen my Make Your Own Hendrick's Style Gin instructable, check it out if you're a gin person.
Here I will show how to make your own (Gran Marnier) orange liqueur. I use sous vide to control the temperature precisely which speeds up the process. While doing so helps cut down on time, I have heard that volatile components come out of solution which could reduce the flavor.
If you do not have a sous vide, do not worry! I will tell you how to achieve the same product.
This can be used in cocktails that calls for Orange Curacao, like Gran Marnier. Triple sec, like Cointreau aka Dry Curacao, perhaps not so much only because "sec" is French for dry, which is not as sweet as our concoction.
Step 1: Gather Your Goods
measuring cup, scale, knife, cutting board, bottle, strainer, cheese cloth or coffee filter
sous vide machine, pot of water
1 cup vodka
50 g orange peel*, no pith (the inner white part since it is bitter), diced
4 whole cloves
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
*organic would be best only because the peels will not have potential pesticides on them.
Step 2: Set Up Sous Vide
NOTE: after the first 5 - 10 minutes, "burp" the bottle to relieve some pressure!!!
Heat the pot of water to 135F (ethanol boils ~170F)
Mix the vodka, brandy and orange peel in the bottle, seal, and shake around. Place in the water bath for two hours, shaking it up every half hour and do another burp. I haven't had a bottle blow up on me but when I burp it, it releases quite a bit of pressure.
Step 3: Make Simple Syrup
Put the water in a pot and set stove to medium heat. Add the sugar and whisk to dissolve. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
Step 4: No Sous Vide? No Problem
If you don't have a sous vide you can still combine the ingredients, except for the clove & simple syrup, and set it in a cool, dry place for 19 days, shaking it up every other day. Add the clove on day 19 and on day 20 everything should good to strain, depending on your taste.
Step 5: Finish It Up & Some Final Notes
Strain the bottle using a damp cheese cloth or coffee filter in a strainer and combine with the simple syrup. IF you really want to get the most out of those orange pieces, put in a salad spinner to separate the clinging liquid. Let the flavors mix overnight and try it the next day.
I read that doing the action with a sous vide can take some of the flavors out of solution (especially when relieving the pressure). I have tried with sous vide and without and I will say that the sous vide method needs more than a day to mellow out. I felt like it took more like a 3-4 days. Also, the steeping for 20 days did produce a more pungent orange aroma and flavor. It tasted more balanced. All in all, letting the action happen over time is the best bet but if you are pressed for time for a party or gathering, the sous vide method still produces fantastic results.