Orange liqueur, or “44,” is one of the most traditional European homemade aperitifs. You’ll find versions in Spain, Italy and France. The original recipe given to cookbook author Patricia Wells called for a single orange studded with 44 coffee beans, mixed with 44 sugar cubes and a bottle of clear eau-de-vie. The mixture is then set aside for 44 days.
The result is a fragrant, fruity drink, which can be mixed with a bit of white wine as an aperitif or served “as is” with dessert or as an after-meal liqueur. Wells found the original version too sweet, so she cut the amount of sugar in half.
From “Patricia Wells at Home in Provence” by Patricia Wells.
- 1 large orange preferably organic
- 44 coffee beans
- 22 sugars cubes (or 6 Tablespoons granulated sugar)
- 1 bottle clear eau-de-vie or vodka
- Thoroughly scrub and dry the orange. With the end of a sharp knife, pierce the orange all over. Insert the coffee beans into the skin, embedding each bean in the orange. Place the orange in a 1 1/2-quart canning jar. Add sugar and the eau-de-vie. Cover securely. Turn the jar upside down and shake to help dissolve the sugar. Place in a cool, dry, dark spot. Shake the jar daily until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Set aside for 44 days. During this time, the liquid will turn from clear to a pale orange and will take on a lovely coffee-orange fragrance. The 44 can be stored indefinitely as is, or the liquid can be filtered and transferred to an attractive liqueur bottle. The orange and coffee beans are not consumed, and should be discarded once they lose their vigor.
- Serve 44 chilled or at room temperature, added to white wine or served in tiny liqueur glasses as an accompaniment to fruit desserts or as an after-dinner drink.