This year, trade in the oranges in the bottom of your stocking for satsumas, an oh-so-Southern citrus. This type of mandarin, grown in coastal Louisiana and Alabama, is seedless, easy to peel, and delicately sweet with just the right amount of pucker. The season for this fruit disappears faster than Santa’s sleigh, so eat your fill this month. Then save the aromatic rind to make Satsuma-cello, our take on the classic Italian cordial limoncello. Serve it chilled or in one of our signature cocktails (recipes below). Bonus: packaged in a pretty bottle, it makes a great gift.
Makes: about 3 quarts
Hands-On Time: 2 hr., 30 min.
Total Time: 7 hr., plus 8 days for standing and chilling
20 satsuma oranges*
2 (750-milliliter) bottles vodka
4 cups sugar
Peel satsuma oranges using vegetable peeler, reserving flesh for another use. Scrape bitter white pith from orange rind strips, and discard pith. Place orange rind strips in a large glass pitcher or 3-qt. jar; pour vodka over strips. Cover and let stand at room temperature 7 to 10 days.
Bring sugar and 5 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat; let stand 30 minutes. Pour syrup into vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature 24 hours.
Pour mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into another pitcher, discarding orange rind strips. Pour into sealable bottles or Mason jars. Seal and chill 4 hours before serving. Store in refrigerator up to 1 month.
*15 minneola tangelos may be substituted
3 Satsuma-Cello Cocktails
The Southern citrus burst of this homemade liqueur delivers a festive twist to cocktail favorites. (Each recipe yields 4 to 6 servings.)
Mix 1 cup Satsuma-cello, ½ cup whiskey, 4 dashes Angostura bitters, and 4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters in a pitcher. Stir in 2 cups each ice and club soda.
Muddle 1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary leaves with 1 cup Satsuma-cello. Let stand 5 minutes. Strain into a pitcher. Stir in 2 cups each ice and club soda.
Muddle ¼ cup basil leaves with 1 Tbsp. sugar. Add 1 cup Satsuma-cello. Let stand 5 minutes. Strain into a pitcher. Stir in 2 cups each ice and club soda.