After years of trial and error. This is my favorite way to make that orange liquor called Grand Marnier. you can also make Limoncello in this fashion too. At the end I will explain how to very this recipe to make it.
12 Fresh Oranges.
12 Orange tree leaves
1 750ml bottle of Napolean Brandy
1 750ml of good 80 proof Vodka
1 750ml EverClear
3 Cups sugar
2 Cups Water
Using a kitchen grater. Remove the zest of all the oranges. Being careful to get only the orange zest and not the white pith. The zest is where all the essential oils are of the fruit.
Take the Orange leaves and crush them in your hand. make sure you bruise them well as it releases there essential oils. The oil from the leaves is very bitter and works with the recipe.
Put the zest and the leaves in a large glass vessel that has a secure lid to it. Do not use an aluminum container as it reacts with the acid of the oranges and will destroy the batch.
And now the good stuff. I use EverClear to get the alcohol content to where it needs to be in the end. this stuff is deadly that's for sure. You can get it at BevMo. It's not out on the shelves, you have to ask for it. They keep it under lock and key. It's 151 proof grain alcohol. they have a 190 proof version as well, but that one one is illegal to sell in California. I have never seen so many waring labels on a bottle before.
This stuff is Hillbilly jet fuel, the legal cousin of moonshine and this one has all it's teeth.
OK, So now you pour all of the alcohol into the glass vessel with the orange zest and leaves. I like to place some plastic wrap over the top prior to placing the lid on it. Just to make sure we have a nice tight seal. It helps to eliminate alcohol evaporation. Remember in the end, this is sipping stuff. And it will definitely warm your cockles.
After pouring all of the liquids into the vessel. and sealing the lid on tight. It's time to let it rest in a cool dark place for up to 30 days. I have done some with jut 7 days. What you are trying to do is infuse the alcohol by extracting the essential oils from the Orange zest and leaves. So the longer you let it set, the more profound and complex your hootch will be.
Above is a shot of the "mix" after sitting for 30 days.
After the infusion time is over. You will need to strain the mixture. I use a clean kitchen towel to do this. First I make sure that i run the clean towel under hot water, while continually squeezing the water from it to make sure any soap residue is gone. You can also use Cheese cloth instead of a towel.
Now that you have succeeded in pouring all of the liquid through your strainer device. Grab that towel or cheese cloth and wring it out. You want to extract every ounce of essence from the zest and leaves.
Final step is to combine the 3 cups sugar with the 2 cups water in a pan and place it over a medium heat on the stove. Let it come right up to the point of boiling and then shut the heat off. stir until all sugar crystal have evaporated. This simple syrup concoction will be used to sweeten the Orange liqueur. This part is trail by error. as everybodies tastes are different. I like mine not so sweet. You might like it sweeter. So, You will have to taste after every scoop of simple syrup. you will be nice and warm after this.
Take the simple syrup and over to where your container of orange liqueur is and ladle a scoop of it and pour it into the liquor. Stir taste. repeat until you get the desired sweetness that feels right to you. let your palette be your guide here. But I warn you to take small tastes, because this batch with top out at around 100 proof when it's said and done.
After you get the mixture to the right level you want it to be. you will need at least 6-750ml bottles to pour the stuff into.
I like to use Crown Royal bottles, which I collect through the year. hehehe. Or better bet is to order some bottles with rubber stoppers online. You need a tight seal. Ya don't want anymore evaporation of alcohol to happen.
Here is the recipe for Limoncello:
4 Lemon leaves
1 1.75ML good 80 proof vodka
1 750ML Everclear
3 cups sugar
2 cups water.
it's basically the same without the addition of the Napolean brandy.
Now sit back grab a cordial glass. place one ice cube in it. Pour 1 ounce of your Grand Marnier into it. swirl it around, light a fire (place glass down first) pop on some Barry White and you are good to go for the night.