DIY Orange Soda

diyorangesodaOrange Crush, Sunkist and other kinds of orange soda are great, even if they taste more like orange the color than like orange the fruit. DIY orange soda has the same mix of sweet and tart as the store-bought stuff, only with the flavor of real oranges.

The citric acid is key to getting that sharp flavor associated with the real-deal orange soda, but it also extends shelf life a little. Leave it out if you like, but then this won’t be as tart and will taste more like OJ than Orange Crush and its kin.

DIY Orange Soda

Zest of 2 navel oranges
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon citric acid
Seltzer

Zest the oranges. Be sure to avoid including any of the white pith. Juice one orange and strain out the pulp. Combine the zest, juice, sugar, water and citric acid in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, then let it cool. Refrigerate the cooled syrup and then mix one part syrup with three parts seltzer for each serving.

Adjust the amount of seltzer to taste. I suggest mixing on a glass-by-glass basis and storing the syrup separately, unmixed.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column

Limoncello Margarita

limoncellomargaritaHappy Cinco de Mayo! I got together with Savvy Housekeeping for a delightful and springy margarita made with homemade limoncello. Celebrate with one today!

Limoncello Margarita

1 1/2 ounce tequila
1 ounce limoncello
1/4 ounce triple sec
1 ounce orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake thoroughly. Strain into a glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Orange Creamsicle Cocktail

orange-creamsicleWe’ve been enjoying some February sunshine here in California. But even if you’re in a blizzard, this Orange Creamsicle cocktail will give you a little taste of summer (with seasonal fruit). Savvy Housekeeping and I whipped up this cocktail that tastes like a light and sophisticated alcoholic Creamsicle. If only the ice cream man carried these.

Orange Creamsicle Cocktail

1 1/2 ounces vodka
2 ounces fresh orange juice
1 ounce cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 ounces simple syrup
Sparkling water

Squeeze the orange juice. Combine juice, vodka, simple syrup, and vanilla in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Add cream. Close and shake thoroughly. Strain into a glass and top with sparkling water to taste.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Meyer Lemon Margarita

meyerlemonmargaritaHappy National Margarita Day! I’m not sure who started this holiday, but I’m positive I like the way it’s celebrated. This cocktail uses fresh Meyer lemons, mint and honey to bring a new twist to a beloved classic. This combo gives it a fresh taste that will certainly lift your spirits.

Meyer Lemon Margarita

1 1/2 ounces honey
3-4 generous sprigs of fresh mint
1 ounce fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 ounces tequila

Muddle the mint and honey at the bottom of a cocktail shaker. Add lemon and tequila, then shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass (serve over ice if desired).

I used Casa Noble Crystal tequila.  This tequila had a nice smooth quality that worked well with the lemon and honey, as a more peppery tequila would have distracted from the flavor combinations. You can use your favorite brand, but be sure it’s 100% agave tequila.

Continue reading

Persimmon Margarita

persimmonmargaritaAround the corner from Savvy Housekeeping HQ, there were a bunch of free persimmons from a neighbor’s tree. When life gave us persimmons, we made persimmon margaritas! They’re tasty and a lot of fun (and in our case practically free).

We used Hachiya persimmons, which have to be totally soft and mushy to taste good at all. Fuyu persimmons are more common at the store and would also work great. Persimmon puree could also be used in cakes, breads and other cocktails. Get to it, persimmon style!

Persimmon Margarita Continue reading

Punch Recipe for the Holidays: Horse & Carriage

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Horse & Carriage from Saveur

What punch should you make for your holiday party? Here is my official endorsement: Horse & Carriage! I made this last week and it was a hit. Gin, elderflower and champagne are an obvious (to me) combination, but what really made this punch stand out was the chamomile tea. It added complexity and sophistication to what otherwise could have been a bit of a one-note concoction. I wish I had made a double batch! (It went fast.)

I modified the recipe a bit from Saveur’s to include more sparkling wine. I think this is a big improvement on the flavor, with the added benefit of making a larger amount of punch. It didn’t taste very balanced the original way, in my humble opinion.

Horse & Carriage (modified)
4 tablespoons citrus sugar (recipe below)
6 ounces fresh lemon juice
6 ounces gin
3 ounces St. Germain elderflower liqueur
3 ounces triple sec
10 ounces cold chamomile tea
8 oz. sparkling wine
Lemon and orange wheels, pomegranate seeds for garnish and ice block (instructions below) Continue reading

Gingerbread Toddy

gingerbreadtoddyIt’s raining and fall coziness is in full effect. So Savvy Housekeeping and I made the perfect seasonal twist on the Hot Toddy—the Gingerbread Toddy. Made with a delicious gingerbread syrup, this warming cocktail tastes like real gingerbread. The syrup would also be good in other drinks like a Gingerbread Latte.

Gingerbread Toddy
2 ounces bourbon
1 ounce gingerbread syrup* (recipe below)
1/3-1/2 cup hot water
A squeeze of lemon

Combine bourbon and syrup in a mug. Fill to the top with hot water. Add a few drops of lemon juice and stir.

*Gingerbread Syrup:
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice

Combine all the syrup ingredients in a pan. Heat to boiling on a stovetop while whisking until all the powdery substances dissolve. Boil for 2-3 minutes so that the syrup thickens slightly.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Fancy Free

fancyfreeThis little-known classic cocktail is basically a gussied-up Old Fashioned. While the addition of maraschino liqueur makes it a little sweeter than an Old Fashioned, it also gives the drink a funky kick and subtle bitter almond flavor.

Some people like to strain the drink and serve it up (without ice). I don’t. Controversy! Or, you know, personal preference.

Fancy Free

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur
1 dash orange bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
orange twist for garnish

Put several ice cubes (or one large ice cube) in an Old Fashioned glass. Add other ingredients and stir, then garnish with an orange twist.

If you want to learn how to make up your own cocktails based on the classics, buy the DIY Cocktails book. If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the Kindle version for free.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman