1 cup high-proof vodka, 42 to 45 proof or 84 to 90% alcohol (TIP: Gin can also be used, but keep in mind that it will impart a more botanical flavor.)
1/2cup fresh orange blossoms (TIP: You can also try dandelions, violets, lavender, geraniums, dried rose or elderflowers.)
1/2 cup orange blossom honey
2 mandarin oranges, peeled and broken apart into sections
2 bottles chilled Crémant de Loire wine (TIP: Other sparkling wines will work such as Champagne,
Crémants from other parts of France, Cava or Prosecco. Rosé Champagne will add more fruity notes and a bit of pink color.)
16 fresh edible flowers such as orange blossoms, violas or nasturtiums, or 1/4 cup dried flowers such as rose petals, lavender or chamomile
Prepare infusion: In a 16-oz glass jar, blend vodka and orange blossoms and seal with a lid; let infuse for 2 to 3 days.
Make honey syrup: In a small pot, bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Add honey and stir until it dissolves. Remove from heat to cool.
To complete your cordial: Use a small mesh sieve to strain the vodka into a small bottle or jar; discard infused orange blossoms. Mix with honey syrup. Allow orange blossom honey cordial to cool in the fridge for at least 1 hour. (NOTE: You can store this infusion in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, so if you have extra blossoms, make a double or triple batch to have on hand for future cocktails.)
Assemble cocktails: Place mandarins in a shaker, large glass or jar. Add 1 cup of the Orange Blossom Honey Cordial and muddle with the back of a wooden spoon until mandarins release their juices. Add 2 cups ice and stir or shake. Strain into champagne flutes or coupe glasses. Top with Crémant and garnish with an edible flower.
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This sauce features round, floral notes of vanilla to complement the tart sweetness of the cranberries. To make the recipe even more quickly, you could use two teaspoons of vanilla extract, but it won’t have the same depth of flavor – or the pretty vanilla-speckled look – of the whole bean.