A Little Christmas Liqueur Treat

Well we are on the upward slope to Christmas and like all other cooks and food lovers I am starting to prepare food before I think of anything else.

On my list of what needs to be prepared up front are a few bottles of liquid refreshment. The Damson Gin was set in place a couple of months ago and now it is time for the Curacao. I found this recipe while I was writing Recipes From an Unknown Kitchen and comes from a recipe book handwritten by William Sayer in the1820s.

Curacao is a liqueur flavored with the dried peel of the laraha citrus fruit, grown on the island of Curacao. A non-native plant similar to an orange the laraha developed from the sweet Valencia orange transplanted by Spanish explorers. Although the bitter flesh of the Laraha is all but inedible, the peels are aromatic and flavorful, maintaining much of the essence of the Valencia orange.

Curaçao liqueur was first developed and marketed by the Senior family in the 19th century. To create the liqueur the laraha peel is dried, bringing out the sweetly fragranced oils. After soaking in a still with alcohol and water for several days, the peel is removed and other spices are added. This recipe uses seville and blood oranges to give the flavor and is obviously not as strong as the original as syrup is added. The recipe calls for three teaspoons of red barley (roasted for colour), but I omitted this as it is just for colour and difficult to find. I have also halved the amounts in the original but feel free to revert.  


1 bottle of pale brandy,

2 seville oranges

1 red orange

350g of sugar

2 inch stick of cinnamon

900mls water 


Place the oranges where they will dry very gradually until thoroughly dry when they will be ‘not larger than a pigeon’s egg’. I put mine in the airing cupboard but it takes some time. If you put them in a low oven be careful that they do not burn.

Then add them with the brandy and cinnamon to a large sealed jar, in a warm place for a week or two. When you are ready to make the Curaçao, remove the oranges and strain the liquid through muslin to remove the cinnamon and barley. 

Make a very clear syrup of the sugar and water, but not strong enough to crystallise. Cool, add the brandy then  mix it all together and store it in a sealed bottle.

I’m not sure what to do with the used oranges it seems a shame to throw them away, perhaps they would make good Christmas decorations. All suggestions welcome.

Recipes from an Unknown Kitchen

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