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Cointreau and Grand Marnier are excellent top shelf liqueurs, but also very expensive. But the low end substitutes like Triple Sec taste, well, awful. But you can make your that's very good quality for much, much less than the French brands. It's easy. Grand Marnier is a but sweeter and thicker than Cointreau. With this recipe you can make it exactly the way you like!
Both Grand Marnier and Cointreau are 80 proof (which is 40% alcohol). Some recipes on the internet add a lot of water, which means the finished
product would be closer to 40 proof, This recipe adds very little water. Another oddity of some recipes: they claim it needs to age for 6 months.
that's fine if you have the time, but I've found it tastes great after just 3 weeks of aging.
For other liqueurs you can make, see this page.
Yield: about 750 ml)
Orange zest is simply grated orange peel. More specifically, I use Mandarin oranges. They are easy to peel and don't have the bitter white part attached to the peel like oranges do.
So, I just peel a half dozen mandarins, then put the peels in a cheese grater (shown in the photo) and grind them up.
Or... for much faster and easier, use a blender or food chopper, too.
The dried orange peel (which you ALSO need) is available at any grocery store.
Combine the orange zest, dried bitter orange peels, brandy in a clean glass jar, like a mason jar / Ball jar. I use half-gallon size glass canning jars.
Seal the jar and shake it vigorously for 15 seconds or so.
Now let the flavors infuse the eau de vie (alcohol). Gently carry the flask down to your barrel aging room
What, don't have one? OK, Put the jar on your kitchen counter for 2 or 3 weeks (3 weeks is better!) at room temperature.
Add the add the cloves, then reseal and shake again.
Let the mix steep for two more days.
Bring sugar and water to a boil in a small pot, stirring occasionally to help the sugar dissolve. It won't dissolve completely, but later it will when you combine the cooled slurry with the brandy. FYI, a sugar solution like this is called a "simple syrup". Allow it cool to room temperature.
Pour the aged alcohol mix through a fine mesh strainer once to get the larger pieces.
Discard the debris in the sieve than line it with the coffee filter and filter the liquid again.
Combine the strained aged alcohol mixture with the simple syrup (the sugar solution) the glass jar(s) and shake.
Now let the mix age for at least a day or two.
Total cost: $11 per 750 ml or about $15 per liter
Cointreau generally costs about $40 to $50 for 1 liter of Cointreau or Grand Marnier plus tax (2020, Atlanta, GA retail)
Sam's Club in 2021 charged $30 `(plus tax) for 750 ml.
So, the homemade is about 1/3 the price of original.
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