Kentucky Christmas Cocktail with candied orange

This Kentucky Christmas Cocktail with candied orange recipe is part of a sponsored post on behalf of SocialStars and Sweet ‘N Low #donthesitaste

This week, I made a huge batch of candied clementine peels.  I love creating something absolutely delicious out of otherwise garbage and candied citrus peels are just divine.  The process is simple and the uses are many, in fact I just baked the candied orange peel into German gingerbread cookies yesterday!  Today, we are all cocktails though, so I assembled some other wintry ingredients like bourbon and vanilla cinnamon Bailey’s Irish Cream to create seriously the most delicious creamy cocktail I’ve ever had!

candied orange vanilla bourbon creamy tini

I don’t drink a lot of dessert cocktails but the holidays have put me in the mood to create a good one.  Bourbon is a great cold weather spirit and I never drink Bailey’s any other time of year, so those were musts.  When I headed out to the store, I found a vanilla cinnamon variety and it clicked – orange simple syrup with a bit of candied orange!

candied orange vanilla bourbon cocktail

Candying citrus peels is not difficult, and since we have three citrus trees at our home bearing fruit, it is my current love.  You simply peel the fruit, toss into a simple syrup and simmer for about 40-45 minutes.  The most important part of this process is the actual cooking/softening of the fruit so make sure you have enough liquid to last through cooking.  Before you cook all of the liquid out, reserve some of the syrup for use in your cocktails.  Once the liquid does cook out, the sugar will cling to the peels and then you just need to let it dry on a wire rack for a day or two.

how to candy citrus peels

candied clementine peel

how to candy orange peel

For this orange syrup, I’m going against the typical 1:1 sugar to water ratio because the peels need to simmer for longer.  To avoid running out of liquid before the peels are tender, I went with a 2:1 ratio.  To keep this rich cocktail under my calorie limit, I used Sweet’N Low to create the orange syrup.  Most of my guests are looking for lower calorie items when they comes to my house, even during the decadent time of the holidays.  Making simple swaps now can add up big time come New Year’s Day when we all reflect upon our holiday calorie count and new year resolutions.

candied orange with sweetener

Other than warm cocktails like hot toddies, ciders and mulled wine, creamy cocktails remind me of the holidays the most.  There isn’t much better than a creamy dessert cocktail on a cold, Christmasy night – right??  The candied fruit peel reminds me of other holiday traditions like fruit cake, and of course oranges in general as it is harvest time for citrus here in Southern California.  This is definitely one to serve up at your next holiday dinner.

candied orange bourbon cocktail

I have made quite a few simple syrups with the zero calorie Sweet’N Low before.  Another great one was a peppermint syrup I created for a Christmas cocktail last year, the Creamy Peppermintini (back when I used to make Pinteresty images) which is fab!!  Check out the Sweet’N Low website for more recipe ideas!

creamy pepperminiti

Kentucky Christmas Cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz Kentucky bourbon
  • 1 1/2 oz Vanilla Cinnamon Bailey’s
  • 1 oz orange Sweet’N Low syrup (2:1 ratio water to sweetener with orange peels)
  1. Combine all ingredients.  Add ice and shake for at least 30 shakes to create a creamy texture.  Strain into chilled coup or martini glass.


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