In the garden of our cottage, the spring vegetables were just coming in. The precipitous terraces enabled us to reach to the tops of the mandarin trees growing below to pluck fresh fruits nearing the end of their season.
Osteria A Cantina de Mananan, when we came across a little shop that sold limoncello and mandarinello.
Lavender Lemonade, it only follows that, when life gives you sour mandarin oranges, you make mandarinello.
16-20 mandarins or clementines, organic (untreated)
3 1/2 cups Everclear® pure alcohol, or vodka
2 cups sugar
3 cups water
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the mandarin oranges and place it in a large glass jar that has a lid. • Pour the alcohol over the zest and seal the jar. Set the jar aside in a cool, dark place for 10 days, shaking it from time to time while the zest macerates.
After the 10 days, make a simple syrup by bringing the sugar and water to a boil, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Let it cool to room temperature.
Using a fine mesh sieve, strain the alcohol into a large bowl. Discard the mandarin zest. Pour the simple syrup into the strained alcohol and stir. If you use pure alcohol, it will turn cloudy. Decant into bottles and store in a dark, cool place. I keep mine in the freezer. ••
• If you desire, juice the fruit and either drink it or use it for a marinade.