Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Mad Scientist

Honeybell Orange Brandy Apertif

Picture this . . . it’s a strangely dark night, fog blankets the ground near “area 51” (that’s my house number). Strange gurgling burps followed by violent hisses erupt from tiny colorful vials filled with strange liquids.

That’s a “teeny” exaggeration. It’s really a little more mundane than that and the test tubes are really dirty dishes waiting on my my husband. I’m just settin’ a little mood, here!

Creating recipes and cocktails is one of my great passions. I am often asked how the process begins and I never have a quick answer. I can get pretty excited when I talk about things I love. (See picture)

To tell the story I have to share my history.

Way back before I ever hosted Home At Last! I was a bartender in New Orleans. My experience and knowledge of cocktails helped land me some pretty cool high-paying jobs in the best places frequented by locals.

My enthusiasm for the art of making and developing cocktails recipes has expanded over the years to include making some of my own liqueurs and flavored syrups to enhance new recipes.

My first batch of homemade Limoncello proved a great success, so much so, that I keep the batches going through-out the year. A pretty decanter filled with sunny Limoncello, prettily-adorned with bottle jewelry, makes a GREAT gift. You can find the recipe on my website at .

The ritualistic stages of the process are all equally enjoyable to me. I carefully skin the Meyers Lemons with my favorite Italian chocolate peeler; a gift from my son and his wife. I create a delicately-flavored simple syrup from the juice of the lemons and add it at just the precise time to enhance the fiery lemon vodka. The peels are carefully strained from the liquid to enhance the clarity and drinkability of the Limoncello and so it goes. . . .

But then a sad thing happened . . . the beautiful lemons mysteriously disappeared, replaced by scrawny, blemished orbs masquerading as fruit. I won’t say I wasn’t panicked! A young tradition was dying way before its time. But I didn’t give up; what would I be without the hunt!

Finally, some interesting newcomers appeared, at the market! Australian Honeybell Oranges. “Look at me, pick me!” they whispered! Hmmm. . . .there were other worries (Again, I’ll point you to the picture.) Did I have enough vodka, could we ever drink all this? It didn’t matter. I filled my basket with the finest candidates and rushed home to search my bar for vodka. Instead I found a lonely decanter filled with golden brandy. Fire up the laboratory! Where’s my apron?

And so my new Honeybell Orange Brandy was born. Rosy tints of blush liquid underscored with a delicate hint of raspberry! It has been a delightful discovery. It’s perfect in my Strawberries Romanoff, exquisite with Paromi Coconut Almond Tea and blissful in a refreshing pre-dinner Apertif with mulled Blood Orange and soda water. "It's delightful, it's delicious, it's de-lovely!"

Paromi Teas
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