I always say that every brewer and cordial maker has their signature lemon liquor. Mine is a spiced lemonchello with a spiced Rum base.
Therefore, it was not surprising when last week, my mom contacted me for lemonchello advice.
What you may not know, is that my mom moved to Costa Rica after retiring from one too many years of being a High School teacher in Northern Nevada. My mom likes wine even more than I do, can go tequila shot for shot with me, and takes her martinis dry with gin.
Costa Rica has great weather, fabulous beaches, and amazing surfing (did I mention my mom married a surf instructor?). But do you know what Costa Rica does NOT have? An alcohol surplus.
As much as my mom is enjoying the local flaura, fauna, and waves, she is really missing her cabernet from the California foothills.
See, as awesome as Costa Rica is, they don’t have a surplus of Two-Buck Chuck or cheap alcohol. What they do have instead, is a local distilled beverage called Guaro.
Guara is a Latin American distilled alcohol made from sugar cane juices. It typically ranges from 30-40% alcohol (so just shy of Rum and Vodka) and is slightly sweeter than our distilled alcohols.
I have neither Guara nor limon mandarino in order to figure out how to advise my parents how to make their liquor, but my lemonchello (whose base also comes from RUM, a distilled sugar can base) is amazing; so I figured what the heck.So basically my mom tells me that my step dad really wanted to make lemonchello from Guara and this lemon/lime fruit combo called limon mandarino that grows on their property.
Basically they are going to need to get enough of their limon mandarino thingies to get 1/2 cup juice. Before they squeeze the limon mandarino, they will want to zest them.
When zesting (and juicing), always make sure to get none of the pith (that’s the white yucky stuff between the outer area you zest and the meaty area you juice), as it will give your liquor a bitter flavor.
Bring 2 cups water to a boil and stir in 3 cups of sugar, as well as the zest. This needs to come to simmer to become a citrusy simple syrup. This needs to simmer long enough to reduce a bit and completely dissolve the sugar. Don’t boil and don’t simmer too long or it will turn into a hard candy. A low simmer for about 15 minutes should be good. Remove the zested simple syrup from heat and let cool just long enough until you can touch it without scorching yourself. Weirdly this is the hardest part- too hot and you will burn off all the alcohol (ALCOHOL ABUSE), and too cold and the simple syrup will stick to the pan. Basically, if it is still warm and you can stick your finger in without burning it, you are good to go.
Finally, add in the half cup of juice and stir thoroughly before adding the 3 cups of Guara. This then needs to sits in a cool (as cool as Costa Rica gets) dark place for about 2-4 weeks. Don’t refrigerate the cordial (that will crystalize the sugars in the simple syrup), but keep it out of direct sunlight and away from heat while it ages. Strain through linen/Muslin/cotton fabric (or worse case scenario a coffee filter) to get rid of all of the zesty bits (or any pulp bits or seeds that get in from the juice). Bottle in anything you have and keep out of direct sunlight while you enjoy it.
Hypothetically speaking, this liquor can be used just like a lemon or limechello: meaning it can be drunk straight, added to anything sparkly, spice up a little ice tea, or added to a tasty pound cake, since my mom is also a fabulous baker.