This recipe comes from Wild Drinks & Cocktails by Emily Han (Fair Winds Press, 2015), a master food preserver, herbalist and expert forager. In this book, Han employs her foraging and culinary skills to concoct a variety of beverages from refreshing tisanes to potent infusions and liqueurs.
Here’s a vital bit of kitchen (and wildcrafting) wisdom: some recipes are meant to be enjoyed right away, while others are lovingly prepared for future pleasure. Vin d’orange falls into the latter category. Infused with winter citrus fruits, it reaches its prime in spring or summer—and that’s when you’ll thank yourself for having such foresight. (It’s also when you’ll lament that you didn’t put up more!) Served as an aperitif, vin d’orange is traditionally made from bitter oranges and dry white or French-style rosé wine. Bitter oranges can be hard to locate, so this version calls for more readily available navel oranges plus grapefruit. The result is a wine that’s pleasantly bittersweet—delicious on its own over ice, or mixed with a little sparkling water.
- 2 large navel oranges (preferably Cara Cara)
- 1 small grapefruit (preferably white)
- ½ vanilla bean, split
- ½ cup (100 g) sugar
- ½ cup (120 ml) vodka
- ½ cup (60 ml) brandy
- 1 bottle (750 ml, or 3¼ cups) dry white or dry rosé wine
Rinse and dry the oranges and grapefruit. Trim and discard the stem ends. Cut each orange into 1/4-inch-thick (6 mm) rounds. Cut the grapefruit in half and then cut each half into 1/4-inch-thick (6 mm) half-circles.
Combine the oranges, grapefruit, vanilla, and sugar in a sterilized quart (1 L) jar. Pour the vodka, brandy, and wine into the jar and push the fruit down with a wooden spoon to submerge it as much as possible (it will insist on floating up).
Cover the jar tightly.
Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 1 month, shaking it daily to moisten the floating pieces of fruit with the alcohol mixture.
Strain through a fine-mesh strainer. Discard the solids. Bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to 6 months. Age for at least 1 month before drinking: the Vin d’Orange will continue to improve with age.