Orange Zest Syrup

by Madeline Popelka


A couple weekends ago, the weather didn’t start off too great. It was cold and rainy, so Kendall and I drove to the farmers market for the first time (we don’t miss it for ANYTHING). Because we didn’t have to walk the mile and a half back from the market to our apartments, we kind of went all out and bought things we normally wouldn’t be able to carry back. For instance, Kendall bought 3 beautiful plants, and I bought a 10-pound bag of oranges.

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I love oranges. They’re probably my favorite fruit. They’re sweet, tangy, and consistently good year-around (at least in California).

As I was peeling away, eating the delicious and perfectly juicy oranges, I asked myself, “Why waste all the peel?” It’s a great garnish for cocktails—I love how the intense orange flavor the oils in the peel complement liquors. It would’ve been a shame to waste all the beautiful peel. So, I decided to make syrup with it.

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Making my Orange Zest Syrup is really simple. All you need to do is combine approximately 3 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar, ½ cup of orange peel (chopped, no pith!), and the juice of 1 orange in a saucepan, then and let it simmer for 30-40 minutes. Because I like to keep my syrup for longer than a week, at the end, I also add the juice of ½ lemon and a splash of vodka. Strain it through a fine strainer, let it cool, and you got yourself some syrup to make some zesty cocktails!

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This syrup has made my mixology life so much easier. Some days I get home late from work, so I’m a little too lazy to pull out a few bottles and think of a good recipe for a cocktail to whip up. But with Orange Zest Syrup, making a delicious cocktail is effortless. A few ounces of any spirit (whiskey, gin, rum, etc.), a little bit of Orange Zest Syrup, a few dashes of bitters, and you’ve got yourself a tasty treat to sip on. 

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Backwoods Breakfast

2 oz. Bourbon

¾ oz. Orange Zest Syrup

4 dashes Coffee Bitters

Pour all ingredients in a pint glass full of ice, stir, and then strain over one large ice cube in a rocks glass. Garnish with flamed orange peel. Enjoy!