Making your own citrus vodka

Making your own citrus, or ‘citron’ vodka is a doddle, and it leaves you with a delicious batch of what’s most famously the main ingredient of that recent classic cocktail, the cosmopolitan. Oh yes.

It can also be left in the freezer and served in tiny glasses to accompany seafood, or mixed into other cocktails, or served simply as a double shot on the rocks with a couple of orange or lime wedges and topped up with cola to make a long drink. This is gorgeous stuff, and I always like to have some in the Golightly Towers drinks cabinet. You can buy various commerical versions too, but the better ones, which tend to be the drier and unsweetened ones, are a bit on the pricey side. Fear not, you can make your own for very little.

Citrus vodka recipe
One 700ml (70cl) bottle of vodka*
Peel from half a lemon
Two strips of lime peel (approx 3cm wide, 6cm long)
One strip of orange peel (approx 4cm wide, 10cm long)

  • Wash the fruit thoroughly to get rid of any dust or wax.
  • Using a very sharp knife, cut the rind away from the fruit, leaving as little white pith on the rind as possible – the pith can spoil the flavour.
  • Put the strips of peel into a large, very clean, wide-necked jar and top up with the vodka.
  • Stir well and put the top of the jar on tightly.
  • If you don’t have a jar, you can put the peel straight into the bottle after removing a little of the vodka, but only if you’re sure you’ll be able to get the peel back out again afterwards.
  • Put the tightly-capped vodka into a dark cupboard to infuse.
  • After two days, shake the bottle and then test it for flavour. Most of the time it only takes three or four days for the flavour to develop, so test every day until it’s a strong as you like it.
  • Once it’s infused, strain out the peel and discard it, then re-bottle the vodka.

Some people like to let citrus vodka mellow for up to three weeks before drinking, but it’s OK to start using it straight away. You might also like to add a little sugar syrup to sweeten it at the infusing stage, but I prefer it without. This infused vodka will keep for several months in a cupboard, and even longer if it’s lovingly stashed, ready for action, in your fridge or freezer.

* About the vodka: it’s often bandied about that you should get ‘the best vodka you can afford’ to make this infusion. I think that’s a load of old rot, and relies on the false perception that the most expensive product is automatically the best for every purpose. I’d say use the smoothest cheap or mid-priced vodka you can find because you’re adding a strong flavour that will change its taste, and I’m controversially going to recommend Sainsbury’s value vodka as I’ve found it to be better than their more expensive own-brand version, and more palatable than Smirnoff. Try it yourself in a blind tasting if you don’t believe me, although please note that doesn’t mean drinking yourself into a blind stupor.

But back to business/pleasure. It’s time for a cosmo, sweetie.

Cosmopolitan (Dale DeGroff version)
40ml citrus vodka
15ml Cointreau
10ml fresh lime juice
20ml cranberry juice
Flamed orange peel or an orange twist for garnish

  • Shake the first four ingredients well with four to six ice cubes.
  • Strain into chilled martini glass.
  • Garnish with orange peel.

Cheers, darlings, and bottoms up!

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  1. Wow – sounds deeeeelicious! Right, I’m off to Sainsburys to clear their shelves of value vodka!

  2. Leave some for meeee. Time for a new batch, and long drinks on the veranda at Golightly Towers…

  3. hiya penny, i made some citrus vodka with your recipe at the weekend. it’s bloody delicious!!!!!!! thanks.xxxx

  4. Scrumptious, BH. When’s the party?

    Didn’t get around to making any at Golightly Towers as I ran out of gin and spent the weekly booze budget on that instead of vodka. Well, in my defence it WAS on offer.

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