Orange Ratafia


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The intense orange and herbal notes of this sweet-flavored brandy are meant to be enjoyed as a bracing aperitif over ice, or as a pleasant after-dinner digestif served at room temperature in small cordial glasses. Use a moderately priced domestic brandy with a smooth finish.

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  • 6 oranges
  • 11/2 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 C. coriander seeds (about 4 oz.)
  • 4 C. brandy

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Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the oranges, being careful to leave behind the bitter white pith. Cut the oranges in half and extract the juice, discarding the seeds. Combine the orange zest, orange juice, sugar, coriander seeds and brandy in a large glass jar. Cover the jar with a lid and let steep for 6 to 8 weeks in a cool, dark place. Stir every few weeks.

Line a large strainer with a double layer of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Strain the mixture through it and press to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the orange zest and coriander seeds.

Wash the jar and return the liquid to it. Allow the ratafia to stand undisturbed for several hours or overnight. If there is sediment at the bottom of the jar, pour off all the clear liquid into a clean container and filter the remaining cloudy liquid through a coffee filter, changing the filter occasionally to speed up the straining process.

Pour the ratafia into clean, dry bottles (you can find decorative ones at import and specialty stores) and cork them. Drink within a year, before the flavor fades.

Adapted from "Food for Friends" by Sally Pasley Vargas

Yield: enough to fill 2 wine bottles, or about 6 C. 

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