Curacao or Triple-sec
- The Dutch not only made gin using juniper berries but also in the
17th century their firms started using bitter orange (Seville orange)
peels from the island Curacao in the West Indies. The peel of bitter
oranges (with blossoms and leaves) were macerated in alcohol and
redistilled to release their essential oils. This was then blended
with neutral spirit or brandy and sugar added.
The French emulated this and use the term triple-sec for their
orange based liqueurs. Although it means triple-dry, most are very
sweet. Cointreau uses bitter and sweet orange peels. Grand Marnier
uses only bitter orange peels but this is blended with cognac and
sugar and then aged. Many of these triple-secs have their inevitable
I have searched the internet for curacao/triple-sec recipes.
"The Houehold Cyclopedia" (1881) suggests redistilling 60g of fresh
peel in a litre of proof alcohol and 400ml water (see orange cordial
A French site suggests redistilling 165g of peel (doesn't say whether
fresh or dry) in a litre of proof alcohol and 250ml of water. Also
here is a scaled down version of their Curacao recipe:
1litre of orange distillate (1/3 of which is a bitter orange
1.4kg white sugar
350ml proof spirit (for blending)
I suppose you could use a pure essential orange oil which is usually
used in the proportion of 7 drops (1/2 tsp) per litre of alcohol. The
orange oil could be also used to adjust your own orange distillate.
You could introduce more complexity by making an orange wine (or
mash) and then distilling with added peels. A recipe for 1 gallon
2lbs (2kg) of over-ripe orange pulp (without peel and pith)
21/4lbs sugar (1kg)
water to make 1gal (4l)
If you can get orange juice without preservatives you could use 1/2
juice and 1/2 water for 1kg of sugar instead of whole oranges.
An orange liqueur recipe can also be made by solely macerating the
peel in the manner of Limoncello (6lemons/3cups vodka,sugar, added
water to dilute to 30%abv).
To make 1 litre (1qt) Orange Liqueur:
3 large oranges
3 cups of vodka
11/3 cups of fine white sugar
Pare the rind (no white pith)
Put peel in a large 4 cup screw-top jar and add 2 cups of vodka,
close and steep for a week until the spirit has absorbed the flavor
Remove peel and add remaining vodka and sugar.