Orange liqueur

Getty Images photo. Beat the Triple Sec shortage by making your own orange liqueur. Getty Images photo

Short of triple sec? Make your own

It seems there will be no end to the supply chain issues that have drained back bars of essential spirits these past two years. This summer, for instance, it looks like we’re facing a shortage of Aperol, just in time for spritz season, so drink up while you can.

The worst so far might just have been the months-long shortage of Cointreau and, in fact, every other brand of the orange liqueur known as “triple sec.” Fresh and zesty, with a hint of heat and a delicate touch of spice, it’s an essential ingredient in everything from the ubiquitous Margarita to the retro-cool Cosmo to the classic Mai Tai. 

Blame the global shortage of glass and printer’s ink, or just the generally snarled system of distribution and transportation, but the situation was pretty dire for a while.

At least two local distilleries, Sons of Vancouver and Copperpenny, have made their own version of triple sec to fill the gap, but you can also make your own. Here’s how.

Note that this will take three weeks to infuse, so plan accordingly.

• 2.5 cups good quality vodka

• 0.5 cup (30 g) fresh orange peel, from 2 to 3 medium navel oranges (see note)

• 2 Tbsp (10 g) dried bitter orange peel (available at herbalists, homebrew shops or online)

• 2 cups granulated sugar

• 1.5 cups water

Place the vodka, fresh orange peel and dried bitter orange peel into a clean, sealable, litre-sized jar. Seal, shake well and place in a cool, dark place to infuse for three weeks. Shake the jar every couple of days.

Once the infusion is complete, make a sugar syrup by bringing the sugar and water to a boil; reduce to a simmer and continue to cook, stirring, until the sugar is fully dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Strain the vodka mixture through a fine-mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth. Rinse out the jar and return the strained infusion to it. Stir in about half of the sugar syrup and shake well. Taste, and if needed, add more syrup until you reach your desired level of sweetness. If you like, transfer to a pretty bottle. The liqueur will keep for up to six months, but is best enjoyed within three. Makes about 2.5 cups.

Note: To remove the zest, use a vegetable peeler, and be careful to avoid the white pith, which will just add bitterness. 

—by Joanne Sasvari

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