|Late-night liqueur by candlelight.|
|Warming fire and "firewater".|
The most common flavoring for aguardiente is aniseed. It is produced as both a dry liquor, often consumed diluted with water, and as a sweet liqueur.
But it is in La Mancha, the heart of Spain, with the most extensive vineyards on earth, where the greatest variety of distilled liqueurs are made. Most of them are home-brews or secret concoctions of monasteries. Such are resolí, a coffee and spice liqueur; místela, a spiced sweet wine fortified with aguardiente, and licor de trasnochá, late-night liqueur, a sweet liqueur with orange and aniseed flavors.
|Orange and spice infused liqueur.|
Start this liqueur now and it will be ready for Valentine’s Day. Heart-warming stuff.
Use your best cut-glass decanter to present this liqueur. It is sweet, but not insipid, and aromatic with orange and spices—a fine after-dinner drink sipped neat in snifters or tiny liqueur glasses. The liqueur can also be mixed with seltzer water and ice for a tall drink or used to concoct a Spanish cocktail.
Licor de Trasnochá
Remove the orange zest with a vegetable peeler in a spiral. Trim off any of the white pith. Leave the strips of zest to dry for several days to concentrate the essential oils.
Use unflavored vodka or grappa for the alcoholic base. Once the orange-spice mixture is combined with the alcohol, the liqueur infuses for 2 weeks before being strained. Take care to use very clean utensils, jars, and bottles.
Makes 2 ½ pints.
|Aromatics to flavor the liqueur.|
1 ¾ cups sugar
1 ½ cups water
1 tablespoon aniseed, crushed coarsely
½ tablespoon coriander seed, crushed coarsely
3 sprigs mint
3 sprigs fresh lemon verbena or 1 tablespoons dried
1 teaspoon orange flower water (optional)
4 cups vodka or grappa
Allow the orange zest to dry, about 4 days.
Combine the sugar with water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Add the orange zest, aniseed, coriander seed, and cloves. Cook gently for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the mint, lemon verbena and orange flower water, if using. Allow to cool for 20 minutes.
|Steep spices and herbs in alcohol with sugar.|
Strain the liqueur into a pitcher and discard the solids. Fit a coffee filter paper into a filter. Pour 1 cup of boiling water through it. Discard the water. Place the filter over a bottle or decanter and pour in the liqueur. It will filter through very slowly. Continue adding liqueur to the filter until it has all been filtered. Use 2 bottles if necessary.
Cap or stopper the bottles tightly. The liqueur is ready to drink, but can be kept in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.