As a follow up to my previous recipe post, Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate and Candied Orange Peel Braided Swirl Bun, I’m sharing this simple and refreshing cocktail that I like to make when I have leftover orange syrup (from all those candied orange peels) around. I especially find this to be a great drink to serve during påske (Easter), right after a good, long trek in the brisk mountain air.
I use a local aquavit called Fjellvitt Akevitt “white mountain aquavit” that has a rich characteristic of caraway and other spices, and just a hint of sherry. The orange adds a nice sweetness and the juniper berries offer a subtle earthiness. To me, this drink captures the essence of the hytte (cabin) lifestyle and can easily be made indoors or outdoors. If snow and ice are still gracing the landscape, then pack your bag with some empty cups, a flask, a small jar of the syrup, and instead of ice cubes, use what nature readily provides.
Oranges play such a pivotal role in the celebrations surrounding påske (Easter) in Norway that I like to utilize them as much as possible, and syrups are a great way to use up peels that might normally be tossed in the bin. After making drinks from the syrup, you can use up any leftovers to drizzle atop your breakfast oats, yogurt, svele and panekaker (pancakes and crepes), and even on top of cakes before you put on a layer of icing.
I’m basing this cocktail from the leftover orange syrup from my Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate and Candied Orange Peel Braided Swirl Bun recipe for making candied orange peels. Of course, you can opt to make the syrup right then and there and I have provided three ways to approach making the syrup. I also like to garnish mine with juniper branches picked after walking in the mountains, but you can of course forego the sprigs if they are not accessible. For a non-alcoholic version, just take out the aquavit and add a little more syrup to your liking.
Aquavit, Orange and Juniper Cocktail (Akevitt-cocktail med appelsin og einer)
Makes 1 cocktail:
- Ice cubes
- 1 ½-ounces aquavit (I use a local brand called Fjellvitt, but use what you like)
- 1-ounce homemade orange and juniper berry syrup (see below)
- Seltzer water (fizzy/carbonated water)
- Juniper sprig and whole berries, to garnish
- Orange slices, to garnish
For the orange and juniper berry syrup:
From my Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate and Candied Orange Peel Braided Swirl Bun recipe (makes about 1 ¼ cups syrup):
- 3 large oranges
- 1 ½ cups (300 g) sugar
- 1 ½ cups (360 ml) water
- 4 tablespoons juniper berries, lightly crushed
Start by cutting the ends off of each orange. Cut the peel of each orange into 4 vertical sections. Gently peel off each section from the orange flesh. Cut the sections into long thin strips about ¼-inch (3/5 cm). Place in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15 minutes over medium-high heat. Drain the peels and rinse thoroughly with cold water.
In the same saucepan, heat the sugar and 1 ½ cups water over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until dissolved. Lower the heat slightly, add the peels and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes, or until translucent. Remove the peels with a slotted spoon and place on a cookie rack to dry out completely for 24-48 hours (you now have candied orange peels!).
Take the saucepan off of the heat and add 4 tablespoons of lightly crushed juniper berries, cover with a lid. Let the berries infuse for 20 minutes. Strain the syrup through a mesh strainer into a clean glass jar and refrigerate until ready for use. Store up to 4 weeks.
For a quick syrup without the candied orange peels (meaning you will just discard the peels when done, so forget boiling for a long time):
Cut the orange peels as instructed above. Place the orange peels, sugar, juniper berries, and water in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool. Strain into a clean glass jar.
To make a cold infusion using pre-made orange syrup (in case you made candied orange peels last week and have some syrup in the fridge):
Take 4 ounces of the homemade orange syrup (this makes 4 cocktails, so use more syrup if you plan on making more!) and place in a clean glass jar with a lid. Add in 1 tablespoon of juniper berries, lightly crushed, and seal. Place in the refrigerator and let infuse overnight.
For the cocktail:
To make the cocktail, fill a glass with ice. Add 1 1/2-ounces aquavit and 1-ounce juniper-berry infused orange syrup. Fill to the top with seltzer water. Garnish with a sprig of juniper, some whole juniper berries, and an orange slice or two. Serve right away and enjoy!
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