Gin & Honey-Soaked Mandarin Champagne Cocktails

I'd like to introduce you to my new favorite thing to drink.

It's essentially a twist on my previous favorite thing to drink--the French 75. To make, I just soaked mandarin orange segments (I bought canned ones soaked in water--these by Roland are my favorite), then rinsed them and placed them in a large jar or container. I top them off with a simple honey syrup (equal parts good honey and water, simmered), a few cups of gin, lemon slices, and a vanilla bean.

And then I let them sit and macerate for a couple days; as they soak, the gorgeous little bathing beauties drink up that honey and gin, and amazing things start to happen.

And THEN, I drop a few mandarins and a few tablespoons of the honey-gin in a champagne glass and topped it off with bubbly.

Amazing! We drank these New Year's Eve and then I made dozens of them to serve at the party last weekend. 

And it is so, so simple!

To be honest, the gin-soaked mandarins alone would make a wonderful dessert, but I'm not one to ever turn down a little bubbly.

(If you prefer, you can swap out raspberries for the mandarins, though I really do prefer the citrus-gin combo.)


Gin & Honey-Soaked Mandarin Champagne Cocktails
Makes enough oranges for about 12 cocktails
  
Ingredients
2 14oz cans mandarin orange slices in water (Not light syrup)
2 cups gin
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup water
1/2  lemon, sliced
1 vanilla bean, split

Champagne or sparkling white wine, to serve

Directions
Drain and rinse the mandarin oranges under cool running water. Place in a medium storage container with a lid. Add the gin and set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the honey and water and stir, heating just until the honey is completely dissolved. Add the lemon slices and vanilla beans, and then pour over the oranges and gin. Stir to combine, cover, and place in the refrigerator to chill and soak for at least 6 hours, but preferably 24-48 hours.

To serve, add a few soaked orange segments and a few tablespoons of the gin soaking liquid in a glass and top off with champagne or sparkling white wine and serve immediately.

Oranges will keep well in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

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