(Makes 3 cups)
Recipe courtesy former Nostrana bar manager Douglas Derrick
20 green walnuts, washed and quartered*
750 mL bottle of Everclear (190 proof)
1 cup water
1 cup fine sugar
½ vanilla bean, hulled and scraped
2 star anise
6 allspice berries
6 pink peppercorns
Peels of 2 lemons and 2 oranges, chopped
Large glass jar with lid
1. Add walnuts to jar and cover with Everclear. Cap jar and let rest at room temperature.
SIX MONTHS LATER …
2. In the first week of December, strain out nuts and discard. Add vanilla bean, star anise, allspice, peppercorns, and chopped citrus peel. Cover and let liquid rest for a week, agitating occasionally.
3. Strain out spices through cheesecloth. Let liquid rest for another week in the jar, without shaking. Then, slowly pour the liquid into a mixing vessel, letting the sediment on the bottom stay in the jar. Discard sediment.
4. Whisk sugar and water into the mixture. Cover and let the flavors refine for one more week, then enjoy! Sip nocino straight; add sparingly (just a quarter or half ounce) to light, citrusy cocktails for a bold, spicy edge; or bottle for holiday gifts.
*Gather your own fallen green walnuts (discard nuts with black rot spots) or buy online or from local farmers and grocers while in season.