Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe.
Garnish with a burnt blood orange slice.
I was, perhaps, ill prepared for the unfettered freedom I discovered entering college in New Orleans at a time when 18-year-olds drank legally and the closest bar was a drunken stumble across one well-manicured quad. A sage observer might have predicted that my torrid love affair with tequila would end as abruptly as it began. But would she have foreseen our fond reunion two decades later after we’d both cleaned up our act (a bit)?
Enter the Solar Flare. One sip and my mind wanders to a hammock in the afternoon sun — only on the Mediterranean, not the Caribbean. Inspired by the beauty – but not the sweetness, of a tequila sunrise, blood orange oleo saccharum tempers the bitter edge of the Aperol and grapefruit juice and the oomph of the tequila.
The oleo saccharum is easy to make, but you need at least four hours of lead time, and waiting longer will draw out more of the oils from the citrus, so I suggest making it the night before you need it and storing it in the fridge. I found a great recipe at Liquor.com. Use a vegetable peeler or a small knife to remove the peel from two blood oranges and one lemon, taking care to not remove too much of the bitter white pith. Place the peels in a sturdy glass bowl (I like to use one with a lid), add 3 oz. of superfine white sugar and muddle the hell out of them. Seal or cover the container, set aside and wait for the magic to happen.
After a few hours, the sugar will have extracted the oil from the peels, leaving you with a complex, citrusy syrup. Just push the peels to the side and let the syrup pool in one spot. I like to scale my recipe up then store the extra oleo saccharum in the fridge for a month (or more, if it lasts that long).
To make the burnt blood orange slices, cut a blood orange (preferable a small one) into 1/4″ wheels and place them on a cookie sheet. Turn on your broiler. Sprinkle each wheel with a pinch each of salt and cayenne pepper, then lightly coat the wheel with demerara sugar. Place the sheet pan under the broiler and watch it closely. When the sugar has been bubbling for about 45 seconds and before the rings turn black, take the sheet pan out, flip the wheels and repeat the process on the other side. When the second side is done, take the wheels out and let them cool before using. Once the pan has thoroughly cooled, lick it. When family members stumble upon you in flagrantre delicto, make them taste it, too. The spicy, salty blood orange caramel left behind is delicious.
Now that you’ve got your mise en place, shake the ingredients over ice, strain into a chilled coupe and place either a full or a half blood orange slice in the cocktail, depending on how large the wheels are. Now drink and drift away to your happy place.