Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is Sunday. This year might we recommend a seasonal cocktail to sip with your valentine? Enter Katie Emmerson, bar manager at The Walker Inn in Koreatown. She makes a mean Manhattan with blood oranges from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market.
Blood oranges flourish in Southern California’s temperate climate. The rinds are orange and often mottled with purple and red tones. The flesh gets its saturated ruby or amethyst hue from a naturally occurring flavonoid called anthocyanin that is found in raspberries, grapes, cherries and blueberries, among other fruits.
The moro and the tarocco are the most common blood oranges you’re likely to find. You can pick out the moro by the intense, deep purple innards. The tarocco has more muted red- and rose-colored flesh. The sweetness of the blood orange will vary depending on when the fruit was plucked from the tree since that’s when the ripening process halts. The moro I tasted from Bob Polito’s farm wasn’t as sweet or tangy as the tarocco. But there will be other opportunities to change this impression. Polito will be trucking blood oranges to the Santa Monica Farmers Market from his Valley Center farm through April.
After selecting her fruit at the market, Emmerson peels the blood oranges, slices the flesh into wheels and dries the fruit with a dehydrator. She pinches the peels and steeps them overnight in rye whiskey, cognac and sweet vermouth so the alcohol becomes infused with the fruit oils. When ready to be consumed, Emmerson strains the peels from the alcohol, stirs it with ice, then serves the Manhattan in a chilled glass with a dried bit of the blood orange flesh for garnish. Voilà: a zero waste cocktail.
The Walker Inn’s Blood Orange Manhattan
Yield: Makes 2 cocktails
2 oz rye whiskey
1 oz cognac
3 oz sweet vermouth
2 whole blood oranges, peels removed and fruit sliced into wheels
For the peels: Pinch the blood orange peels to express the oils. Steep peels in the cocktail overnight in the refrigerator before serving.
For the fruit: Slice the remaining fruit from the blood oranges into wheels. Set wheels in a dehydrator or in a baking pan in your oven on a low setting until fully dehydrated.
To serve: Strain the peels. Stir the cocktail mixture with ice and pour into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a dehydrated blood orange.