From late November until February, brightly coloured boxes of fruit from the Mandarin family, large, smooth skinned oranges, thin skinned lemons and limes catch my attention in local markets. The arrival of new season citrus, signals the time to make stimulating festive drinks, as well as marmalade.

This year, I have tested two festive drinks recipes, making alcoholic drinks with oranges and lemons. Both work well with Brandy and blended Whisky. Another recipe for a Vin d’orange combining oranges, lemons, rosé wine and vodka from Richard Bertinet’s Patisserie Maison has proved a universal hit.

Very little equipment is required to make drinks; a few Kilner jars or large plastic lidded boxes.

Once the drinks have been made, store them in a dry, dark cupboard or a fridge until they are ready for bottling and drinking. Bright light can spoil the beautiful colour of many drinks.

Before pouring them into bottles, filter them through a muslin bag. For a clear drink, if spices are in the recipe, filter the drink at least twice before bottling. Attractively packaged drinks, if you can bear to give them away, make excellent gifts for Christmas or Birthdays.

When making drinks, patience is required, as these drinks improve if stored for a few months, before bottling. Bottles are sold in kitchenware shops and online from specialist suppliers. I buy my bottles from Bottle Company South, and flanged corks and shrink capsule covers from a brewing shop.

Orange Whisky

Makes 600ml

2 large, thin skinned oranges
1 large cinnamon stick
100g granulated sugar
600ml blended Whisky

1) Thinly pare the peel from the oranges, remove any pith from the peel. Cut the peel into thin strips and put in a 1 litre jar.

2) Squeeze out the juice from the fruit and add to the peel with the sugar and cinnamon stick. Pour in the Whisky, then seal the jar. Shake the jar to dissolve the sugar.

3) Leave in a cool cupboard for a couple of months, shaking the jar occasionally. Strain the fruit and bottle the Whisky.


For Richard Bertinet’s Patisserie Maison
For bottles and jars Bottle Company South