I recently had a bunch of grapefruit rind hanging around, and since citrus peel is so valuable around our house, I decided to candy it, rather than just let it go to the dumpster.  I’ve been snacking on the peels themselves ever since, but the other product of candying citrus peel is an intense, citrus-flavored, candied syrup.  I suspected it would be useful in drink-making, but I’ve only now found a good use for it.

The following drink is the kind I least like to see online – one that uses a very specific, necessarily DIY ingredient.  But it’s very tasty, and making candied citrus peels itself is easy (and productive!), so keep this in mind.  I suspect other citrus syrups could be used, but the base liquor and souring agent might have to be swapped around: maybe match orange syrup with bourbon and some kind of aromatic bitters, or lemon syrup with cognac or rye and a dash of yellow Chartreuse.  You could even try using a bitter marmalade (essentially a mixture of the syrup and candied peels) as in the Marmalade Cocktail.

Ad Hoc Sour (mine):

  • 2 oz spiced rum (The Kraken)
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz candied-grapefruit syrup (homemade*)
    Shake well witch ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a citrus peel, if you feel like it.

I was at first thinking rye might be the base spirit for this, but the deep bitterness of the candied syrup made me move towards the sweet aromatics of spiced rum.  The Kraken, as I’ve mentioned before, is my current favorite of the new generation of spiced rums.  Very vanilla- and spice-forward, with a nice molasses aftertaste.

The drink was really enjoyable; the candied notes of the syrup and the vanilla of the rum combined to make a sort of dark chocolate flavor – the kind of emergent behavior I like to see from my cocktails.  Easy, tasty, and refreshing.  A nice sour for a difficult day.

*Candied-Peel Syrup

  • 4 grapefruits (or other citrus)
  • water
  • sugar
    Remove the pith and peel from the grapefruit with a sharp knife.  The easiest way to do this is to cut off the poles of the fruit (the stem and blossom ends) and make 4 longitudinal cuts through the rind, from pole to pole.  You can then peel the pith and rind off in one, large swath.  Reserve the fruit for separate use.  Place the peels into a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil.  Boil for 10-20 minutes, then strain and repeat.  Do this 2-4 times to reduce the bitterness of the peels; the number of times depends on the choice of fruit – oranges are least bitter, grapefruits most.  After the repetitions, the peels should be softened and slightly swollen-looking.  Add enough cold water to cover, and 1-2 cups of sugar – enough to make a heavy syrup.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for at least 1 hour, probably more like 2, until the peels are softened and translucent.  Remove the peels from the syrup and place on parchment to dry for at least 3 days, turning occasionally.  Strain the syrup into a clean bottle and keep refrigerated.  Once the peels are dry, toss them in granulated sugar and use as a garnish.  They can also be dipped in chocolate, in which case they make fine holiday candy.