Expat Jeroen van den Bos shares his homemade Algarvian orange liquor recipe.
Jeroen: “Nothing could be more true than what Alain Ducasse, a multiple Michelin-starred chef from France once said: “The only star in the kitchen is the ingredient; fresh and local.” So, put on your walking boots, go explore the Algarve, and pick a few oranges on the way, to make this delicious Algarvian orange liquor.
You start off with two large oranges. Wash them well under cold water, and brush off any dirt or sand. On a clean cutting board, cut each one in four equal wedges. Put these wedges in a big saucepan, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. When the water is boiling, strain the oranges, put them back in the pan, add cold water, and repeat the boiling process twice more.
In the meantime, sterilise a 3-litre jar (one that closes hermetically – I’ve seen them in the Continental supermarket), by washing it thoroughly with warm water and detergent. Rinse with hot water. Then fill the jar with boiling water, let stand for two minutes, then discard the water. Make sure you don’t touch the inside of the jar or the lid with your hand or fingers.
As soon as the oranges have been boiled and strained three times, take them out of the saucepan with a clean fork and put them in the jar. Add whiskey, and a sprig of rosemary that has been washed. Some cinnamon and cloves do wonders too. The whiskey should cover the oranges, and you must remember the quantity of whiskey used for next month.
Close the jar, and shake gently. Put the whiskey in a cool place, and let stand for a month, while shaking gently every day.
After a month, you’re ready to proceed. Make a heavy sugar syrup, by boiling 500ml still mineral water. When it boils, add 750gr of white sugar, and with a clean spoon, stir, until all sugar dissolves. Lower the heat, let simmer for another 5 minutes, and remove the impurities that might appear on the surface of the syrup. Let cool down.
Using a clean strainer, remove the orange, rosemary, cinnamon and cloves from the whiskey. Pour the whiskey back in the jar, and add heavy sugar syrup. For every litre of whiskey used, you add 350ml heavy sugar syrup. This would give you a balanced, not too sweet orange liqueur.
Let the orange liqueur ripen for another two weeks in the jar, this time in the fridge. The last step would be pouring the orange liqueur into clean, sterilized bottles.
You can drink it chilled as it is, or make a nice mojito-style spritzer, muddling mint and some lime in a long drink glass, adding your orange liqueur, ice cubes, then topping it off with some Portuguese sparkling wine. Enjoy, but drink responsibly!”