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Swap Lemons for Blood Oranges for This D.I.Y. Digestivo

Osteria Via Stato’s David DiGregorio shows us how to make his twist on limoncello.

Orangecello
Photo: Jeff Marini

Is there a finer way to cap an Italian-style feast than with a bracingly cold glass of limoncello, the potent lemon-infused liqueur? Yes, says David DiGregorio of Osteria Via Stato in River North: How about a ’cello made with blood oranges instead? DiGregorio whips up the after-dinner spirit all year long using seasonal fruits, such as raspberries in summer and citrus in winter. He prefers crafting his own blends to buying imported versions: “You can control how long the flavoring sits in the alcohol, and how sweet it is, to create a more balanced flavor profile.” Swapping the traditional lemons for the soft acidity, rich color, and berry-like undertones of blood oranges makes for an especially spirit-lifting concoction on long winter nights.

David DiGregorio’s Orangecello

Yield:About 6½ cups
Total Time:Up to 8 days
Active Time:30 minutes

10 Blood oranges
3 cups Vodka, plus more if needed
1 cup Grain alcohol (like Everclear)
2 cups Sugar
2 cups Water

1. Carefully peel the oranges, avoiding any pith. Combine the rinds, vodka, and grain alcohol in a container, making sure that all the rinds are submerged. Cover tightly, and let steep for 5 to 8 days in the refrigerator.

2. After the steeping is done, make a simple syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar melts completely. Let cool for 30 minutes.

3. Discard the rinds, strain the alcohol mixture, and add the simple syrup to it. To temper the sweetness, add more vodka to taste.

4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer. (It will keep for up to 2 years.)

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