March 13, 2011

Orange Milk Liqueur recipe, and experimentation updates!

Want to know how my experimental orange milk liqueurs turned out?!

orange milk liqueur

The orange vanilla liqueur, based on this recipe(ish), turned out really well!!  It tastes just like an adult creamsicle in liquid form!  So, here’s my recipe (easy to double for a larger batch):

  • 1 cup vodka (flavorless, I use Oregon Springs brand, which is like 1 step up from the cheapest options)
  • 1 cup milk (I used whole for this one, but I think 2% would be fine)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 mandarin oranges, sliced into 4 pieces each (other kinds of oranges should work fine too)
  • 1/2 lemon, sliced into 3 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

making orange milk liqueurs!

Mix the milk, vodka, and sugar together in a glass jar, then add the fruit and vanilla.  Put the lid on and shake a bunch so it’s well blended.  The next day it’ll be separated and look something like this:

making orange milk liqueurs!

Mix it up by shaking the jar once per day, and the separating will be less as the days pass.  I made two batches and filtered one after 11 days and the other after 3 weeks, to test how much of a difference it would make… I can taste the difference between the two, but barely.  The 3 week liqueur is a wee bit more flavorful, but the 11 day one is superduper delicious too.

So, my conclusion for that is:  if you’re in no hurry, let it sit (shaking once per day) for about 3 weeks, but if there’s a reason you want it done sooner (like if it’s a gift), then about 10 days is enough time.

homemade chocolate liqueur!

Now comes the filtering – there are a few steps here.  First, strain the whole thing through a fine mesh strainer, and/or cheese cloth, to get out all the solids.  Next, line a strainer (or a funnel) with a paper coffee filter, and pour the milky liquid in.  It’ll take some time to filter through (overnight maybe), and it’ll coat the filter in milk solids, so you’ll need to change filters a few times as needed.

Once all your liqueur has gone through the coffee filters once, I recommend giving it one more run through – now that all the milk solids are filtered out, the second time goes very quickly and only one more coffee filter should be needed.  You can run that second filtering through a funnel, directly into your glass bottle, and then you’ll be left with a beautiful golden, delicious liqueur!

my first 3 orange milk liqueurs!

Above are the 2 batches of orange vanilla liqueur (center and right) and then my super experimental orange spice liqueur…  The orange spice is not ready to share a recipe yet – I learned some huge liqueur-making lessons with that experiment.  Well, one huge lesson: don’t make liqueur with ground spices!  I think the ground cinnamon was the main problem.  Filtering took about 4 days, 3 or 4 times through, and probably about 12 or more coffee filters – not fun!  Once all that filtering was finished, it made a totally drinkable liqueur, but man, it has bite!  I can’t really taste the orange, just the spice!  Good, though!

So, I’m now trying out some updated experimental liqueurs using cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, and some crystalized ginger pieces…

experimental spiced milk liqueurs

There’s an orange spice, an orange+apricot spice, and a plain dried apricot milk liqueur.  I got some liqueur making books, but there’s no mention of milk liqueurs (I think they are a traditional Portuguese thing that’s just starting to be known in the states thanks to this book, but I could be totally wrong and they could have some other origin… anyone know?) – so, I’m using the idea of a dried apricot liqueur from one of the books, and turning it into a milk liqueur.  Based on how the orange ones turned out, I think it’ll work well!

Oh, a couple other things I want to share before I go – first, don’t use the kind of jar from Ikea like I used for the spiced liqueur!  Major leaking, no good!  I later found these jars at The Container Store that are working really well, and the biggest size I found is big enough for a batch with 2 cups each of milk/vodka/sugar, as long as I don’t need to add lots of solids (like orange slices) that take up space.

orange milk liqueur

And one last thing – I used this idea to remove the labels from recycled jars and bottles, and it works really well!  Once you use up the vodka for your liqueur, and whatever other glass bottles that have good lids, soak them in water with some shampoo for a few hours – with some kinds of labels, they will literally just fall off the bottle in the water (I think TJ’s blood orange soda was one of these), but others will just become looser and easier to scrape off.

I think that’s all I’ve got for you now.  Happy daylight savings day!

Filed under: drinks,recipes — leethal @ 4:27 pm
  • Squeaky Gourmet

    FUN! I love this idea!

  • Vertigoxcured

    What do you think about using whole vanilla beans instead if extract?

  • Nicole

    This sounds delicious and I have to try it. But do you store it in the fridge?

  • Lee

    I think that would be better! I’ll try it someday, but I was using mostly what I already had in the kitchen, plus I read how pricey they are in this post – – so I used extract for now.

    Leah made a version of the chocolate milk liqueur, the first kind I tried, using vanilla bean, which she said turned out great!

  • Lee

    nope, just store the mixture as it sits in a cool, dark place – mine are in my kitchen cupboard – and store the final liqueur at room temperature, like normal store-bought liqueur.

  • Nella

    Italians (like the Portuguese) make a lot of homemade liqueurs. My mom makes Basil liqueur. So easy! You infuse alcohol (I am lucky enough to be able to buy Everclear here in OR, but it’s hella strong. Vodka, like you use, works just as well) with 40 washed/dried basil leaves. Store in the dark for 4-6 weeks. Then you strain the alcohol and mix with a sugar syrup. This tastes amazingly good in lemonade.

    I really want to try your Orange Vanilla. One thought though, and it comes from a friend who makes ‘Latte della Gallina’, a milk-based Limoncello recipe she got in Naples. She uses UHT milk (shelf stable milk that comes in tetra packs). Have you ever considered trying it? I think the final product would be more milky. Different, but not necessarily a bad thing.

    Keep up the good work! :-)

  • Suzipdm

    Winemakers use a filter that is really good for filtering liquers also. I am going to try this as soon as possible. I use turbinado sugar in my liquers and it gives it a slightly different flavor than white sugar.

  • liz

    that looks amazing. do you think soymilk would work as well? or does the filtering of the milk solids also remove lactose?

  • Hoovooloo22

    I made a bunch of vanilla extract with this recipe ( Vanilla extract is just a vodka really heavily flavored with vanilla. I use recycled wine bottles, as vanilla is light-sensitive and the green bottles counteract that, and those pressure-sealing wine bottle stoppers. I’m making 20 bottles so that I can decant them into tiny bottles for wedding favors. I bought 1 pound of the chef grade vanilla beans from Vanilla Saffron Imports ( for $25! The vanilla beans are really nice, and the price is great, considering 8 oz of vanilla extract costs as much at the grocery store. Vanilla beans also keep for quite a while, so you can always make vanilla pudding or ice cream with any extras.

  • Kniftybits

    Wow, this is fascinating. I’ve made schnapps before, but never anything like this. Thanks for sharing.

  • Arborescence

    Hello There! I am part of a foodie group. We are making cordials and I can’t wait to try this recipe!!

  • Peggy Vonburg

    This sounds soooo good. Would be nice to have by clementine candlelight! Have you made those?

  • Lee

    No! Sounds interesting…

  • Kirsten Hipsky

    Awesome! I’m trying it, with a few changes according to what I have on hand.

    In a glass mixing bowl I’ve combined 1c sugar, 1c 1% milk (we’ll see how it goes), and… what? only 3/4c vodka? Man, I should have checked the fl oz on that little bottle, 4 clementines, 1 lemon (I didn’t want to have half a lemon sitting around), 1/4 of a vanilla bean and the remnants of my bottle of vanilla extract, a cinnamon stick, just a dash of ground ginger, and, hm, needs more liquid, I have a little spiced rum… *sniff sniff* *sniff sniff* they smell like they’d taste good together, so what the hey, a glug of that.

    I’ve covered it with plastic wrap and I’ll stir it every day for 3 weeks, then strain it as demonstrated. I’ll report back with the final results!

  • Pingback: Orange Vanilla Liqueur « itsgreattobeorange()

  • Honeybee

    I am making some right now and I’m very excited! But I have a question: if it takes all night to filter, won’t a lot of the alcohol evaporate?

  • Briana

    Hi! How did it turn out?

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