Back in February the orange trees were in blossom and the sweet heavy smell of orange blossoms was enticing. Orange trees provide much of the shade for the coffee on our farm and we have a lot of them. Wondering how to capture this and preserve it for another day, Beatrice and I picked several thousand flowers. Beatrice thought climbing the trees was great fun, our orange trees are good climbers with lots of good branches for stepping on for four year old legs.
We took the baskets of flowers we harvested, steeped them in alcohol, sealed the bottles and forgot about them for several months. Last week we re-discovered the bottles and started tasting. The liqueur had unique floral rich heavy fragrant flavor combined with an astringent bitterness.
We had a brainstorm. Should we finish the liqueur with a sugar syrup and use as a digestive; Use instead of bitters in cocktails maybe with the Argentinian sparkling wine that is quite prevalent here; Or something else. Then Ed came up with an interesting idea, the bitter astringent notes were similar to gin - we should combine with tonic water and make an orange blossom gin and tonic.
As is often the case with Ed's ideas, it was a winner. We served this with one of the local Panamanian lemons known as the Chino lemon. It is green on the outside and orange on the inside, it is a fragrant almost sweet lemon and often used here to make desserts. It always has brown circular marks on the outside of the skin and you can see one of these in the photo.
We started making our orange blossom gin and tonics about a week ago. We downed our first batch after a long hot hike, very refreshing it was too. We offered the second batch to guests for Friday lunch and it seemed to pass quite well, we consumed a surprising amount. We just made some more to take the picture in this post and ahhhhhhh, what a grand way to end the weekend.