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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Nile by Night - a Gluten Free Cocktail

A Middle Eastern inspired cocktail: made with honey, ginger and orange blossom water syrup

Ok, so I'm not great at photographing cocktails.  I don't even have nice small tumblers (and up until about a month ago this drink would have been served to guests either in a coffee mug, or a salvaged old candle holder!).

That's what you get for moving around a lot and forgetting that you left your glasses in your mother's basement after the last move...

But seriously, don't let the photo stop you from trying this drink.  I concocted this one when a friend came over for dinner with a bottle of gin, and the amazing flavour of this baby caused an obscene amount of it to be consumed, rendering me somewhat miserable and incapacitated for most of the next morning.

So here's my warning, be careful.  This is fantastic.

Now I used gin for my mix, (and two days later had it again, sans alcohol, and it was still awesome) but...

there is some controversy about whether or not gin is gluten free.

This article on is a good start for deciding: it shows two sides of the coin, the one side that says that the distillation process strips away the gluten, rendering most hard alcohol safe for celiacs and g-free folks, whereas the other side argues that it does not remove enough and people should still be cautious.

Now I personally am fine with gin (I mean, at least in moderation anyway!) but if you are unsure, you could easily replace the gin with a potato vodka instead. Or go alcohol free.  It makes a great virgin cocktail, too. 

Orange Blossom Water

This recipe was inspired by Orange Blossom Water, which is a common ingredient in dessert syrups in Middle Eastern food.  It has a gorgeous, light perfume to it, and I love love love the smell and flavour it imparts.  Orange Blossom Water, honey and hot water is also a common drink in some parts of the Mid-East, and I thought, why not kick it up with some ginger and gin?

So yeah, it doesn't get much better than this.

Ingredients for the Orange Blossom and Ginger Syrup:

2 3/4 c water
3/4 c honey
A 2" piece of fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
 1.5 Tbsp orange blossom water (available at most ethnic shops, Middle Eastern markets, or large supermarkets with an ethnic section, usually beside the rose water.  FYI in Madison, WI, I got mine at Asian Midway, and in BC I think Superstore carries it, and the Arab and Persian shops in Burnaby)


In a medium size sauce pot, bring the water, honey and ginger to a boil.  Boil for 2-3 minutes, then reduce to a simmer and let simmer approx. 15 minutes.

Remove from heat and add the orange blossom water.  Let cool.

 Note: The longer you let this sit with the ginger in it, the more ginger flavour will impart, which can be nice, depending on how much you like ginger. 

Ingredients for the Nile by Night Cocktail

1 ounce Orange Blossom and Ginger Syrup
1 ounce gin or potato vodka of choice (or non at all, this is wonderful alcohol free, too!)
1 ounce sugar free Club Soda or sparkling water
ice to fill a glass


Fill a glass with ice and pour ingredients over.  Stir and serve with a twist of orange if desired. 

What's your preferred holiday drink?

This post was shared on the following great link parties: Sewing Barefoot, Meal Plan Monday, Musings of a Housewife, Monday Mania, One Creative Mommy  

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