A Tale of Two Spirits

Walk into any liquor store and you’re likely to see an endless selection of colorfully packaged vodka and other spirits with flavors ranging from “Sour Apple” to “Cinnamon”. These flavors can add a whole new arsenal to your Craft Cocktails. Homemade infusions however, are a completely different story. The infusion process allows the added benefit of letting you control the outcome, and perfect your personal preference. Here are two spirits I recently made, not only to use in cocktails but also as great recipe enhancers.

Homemade Grand Marnier with a Twist

This homemade Grand Marnier recipe combines the peels of four different kinds of citrus, which add dimension and a flavorful twist.

Homemade Grand Marnier – This homemade orange liqueur is typically mixed into margaritas and other cocktails – it is a staple for any home bar. Serves: 7 cups

  • Ingredients
  • 8-10 Oranges–Here I used two Clementines, two mandarin oranges, four Cara Cara Oranges and one Red Grapefruit
  • 1.75 Liter bottle of Brandy
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups raw sugar


Peel oranges into long strips using a vegetable peeler, taking only the rind and none of the white pith. If some of the white pith is on the peels, use a paring knife or a small spoon to scrape it away and discard.

  1. Juice one Orange and pour into jar with Orange peels, a 2 quart glass jar works best, then pour in brandy and stir gently. Cover jar and store in a cool dry place for 4 weeks, stirring once a week.
  2. After brandy mixture has been stored for 4 weeks, Stir together water and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, until sugar is completely dissolved. Let sugar mixture cool completely.
  3. In a fine mesh sieve strain orange peels out of the brandy mixture and discard peels. Stir in sugar syrup into the brandy. Line the strainer with a coffee filter and pour the Grand Marnier through the filter. Once all of the mixture has filtered through replace with a new filter and strain again. Repeat this process 2-4 more times until Grand Marnier is clear.
  4. Transfer the Grand Marnier to bottles and refrigerate before serving. Store in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 1 year.

As this was my second batch I only made a half recipe.

The second homemade spirit is my hack of Art in the Age’s Rhubarb Tea Liqueur.

Homemade Spiced Rhubarb Liqueur

Quality ingredients including good vanilla and fresh spices are key to a successful product.


3 cupsrhubarb, finely chopped (fresh or frozen)

1 ½ cupsEverclear (190 proof)

1 cinnamon stick

1 Tbsp each-pink peppercorn, cardamom seed, coriander seed

1 Tbsp dried bitter orange peel

1 tspvanilla

1 cup rawsugar

1 cup water

Start by toasting your spices in a small frying pan, on medium heat stir spices until you can smell their aroma. Set the spices aside and start simple syrup.

For simple syrup combine raw sugar and water in a sauce pan over medium heat until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and add toasted spices, then cover with a lid and let seep for 15 minutes.

Allowing the warm toasted spices to seep in the simple syrup will ensure a good absorption of the spice

Place the chopped rhubarb in a large resealable jar (a Mason jar works well) and the cover with spices and simple syrup, replace lid and shake to release rhubarb juices. Let set for 20 minutes. Then add 1 ½ cups Everclear and vanilla, seal jar and shake again to mix ingredients.

Let jar sitfor 2-4 weeks, shaking occasionally, until the color has leached out of therhubarb.

Using afine-mesh strainer or cheese cloth, strain out the rhubarb and spices, pressingthe solids to remove as much liquid as possible.

Bottle the liqueur and enjoy in various cocktails and recipes.

A wonderful melding of flavors will welcome you when you bottle this homemade Spiced Rhubarb Liqueur.

I hope that you have enjoyed this Tale of Two Spirits. Look for upcoming recipes that incorporate each of these unique homemade liqueurs. Cheers!

Images and content ©Drink In Nature Photography/Drink In Life Blog

Orange Hot Buttered Rum with a Toasted Almond Biscotti

Today is National Hot Buttered Rum Day, celebrating this venerable cocktail.  With documented origins in Colonial times, Hot buttered rum is a mixed drink containing rum, butter, and various spices. A perfect cocktail, served hot to ward off the winter chill.  

Certain Hot Cocktails call for something special and this Orange Hot Buttered Rum screams for a dunking partner.

Toasted Almond Biscotti with Orange Glaze

Toasted Almond Biscotti

·      2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

·      1 teaspoon baking powder

·      1/4 teaspoon salt

·      4 tablespoons 1/2 stick unsalted butter

·      1 cup sugar

·      2 large eggs

·      3/4 teaspoon almond extract

·      3/4 cup sliced almonds toasted and cooled.

Orange Glaze

·      1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

·      1 teaspoon orange extract

·      1 tablespoon butter, melted

·      1 tablespoon milk

·      Pinch of sea salt


1.    Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.    In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

3.    By hand or using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time, then the almond extract. Stir in the almonds. Sprinkle the dry ingredients over the egg mixture, then fold in until the dough is just mixed.

4.    Halve the dough and turn both portions onto the prepared baking sheet. Using floured hands, quickly stretch each portion of dough into a rough 13-inch by 2-inch log. Place the loaves about three inches apart on the baking sheet, patting each one smooth.

5.    Bake until the loaves until are golden and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time.

6.    Cool the loaves for 10 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 325° F. Transfer the loaves to a cutting board. With a serrated knife cut each loaf diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices. Lay the slices about 1/2-inch apart on the baking sheet, cut-side up, and return them to the oven. Bake, turning over each cookie halfway through baking, until crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack to cool completely.

7.    For the glaze, whisk together confectioners’ sugar, orange extract, butter, milk and salt until combined. Add more milk if necessary, for desired consistency.

8.    When biscotti is cooled drizzle Orange glaze over one side of biscotti and finish by zesting fresh orange peel over the top of glaze.

If you do not have Orange extract you can substitute with some Orange Liqueur or fresh squeezed Orange juice.

Now that the Biscotti ready, you can start the Orange Hot Buttered Rum.

The compound butter will keep for several weeks in an airtight container in the fridge, and the spices will only get more intense over time.

Orange Hot Buttered Rum (Yields 4 Drinks)

For the orange butter, mix together:

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cloves
  • Pinch sea salt

To serve: per mug

  • 3 to 4 Tbsp orange butter
  • 1.5 ounces dark spiced rum
  • 3/4 cup of near-boiling hot water

Add hot water and spiced rum, stir until the butter and sugar melts.

All that is left to do is to sit back and enjoy this orange infused Hot Buttered Rum and Toasted Almond Biscotti.


Images and content ©Drink In Nature Photography/Drink In Life Blog