satsuma cocktail in a box of fresh fruit

This year’s 12 Days of Christmas theme is A Very Merry Coastal Christmas–focusing on super local, regional specialties only found on our sweet slice of the Gulf Coast. On the second day of Christmas, I present you a subtly-spiced Satsuma syrup ideal for champagne and bourbon cocktails.

satsuma syrup in a jar

I have talked a lot about this (so bear with me), but one of my absolute favorite things about living on the Gulf Coast is access to homegrown citrus. We used to grow satsumas, Meyer lemons, and grapefruit, but I moved and alas possess a citrus orchard no more. However, thanks to the generosity of my neighbors, friends, and some kind strangers, I always have an abundance of citrus fruit.

What is a satsuma?

Also known as a mandarin orange, a satsuma is a small citrus fruit of the orange variety with a loose skin that is very easy to peel. Satsumas are somewhat less sweet than a clementine or a tangerine but share a very similar favor. Satumas (and other citrus fruit) are widely available along the Gulf Coast because of our enviable (albeit hot and humid) weather year-round. Because citrus is a winter crop, satsumas are often correlated to Christmas. They are often used as stocking stuffers because of a legend about Saint Nick who dropped golden balls to aid three sisters who did not have enough money to marry. The oranges and satsumas that we traditionally fill our stockings with represent the generosity of Saint Nicholas.

Why make syrup?

My friend and coworker Chris and his wife Sara brought this syrup over one evening for our oyster night (during which he singlehandedly shucked 100 oysters). I believe his addition of cloves and cinnamon to citrus is a brilliant one. This Satsuma syrup could not be easier to prepare. One simply boils Satsuma juice and sugar in a one to one ratio and adds spices like whole cloves and cinnamon (you could even add others such as allspice or cardamom).

satsuma cocktail in a box of fresh fruit
3.85 from 13 votes

Satsuma Syrup

This easy citrus syrup is subtly spiced with fall flavors and makes a mean Satsuma Old Fashioned.

Course Drinks
Cuisine British
Keyword satsuma cocktail, satsuma recipes, satsuma syrup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Servings 2 cups
Author Chris Cowley


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup satsuma juice
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 dash orange blossom water optional


  1. Simmer sugar and satsuma juice together until sugar has completely dissolved, stirring often.
  2. Turn off the heat and add cloves, cinnamon and orange water.
  3. Strain into jars or small bottles, discarding solids.
cocktail in a box of satsumas

What kind of cocktails can you make with this syrup?

This syrup makes an ideal gift in a pretty jar tied up with a bow. Attach the following recipes so that the lucky recipients know exactly what to do with it.

satsuma old fashioned cocktail

Satsuma Old Fashioned

Makes 2 cocktails

4 ounces satsuma syrup
3 ounces bourbon
4 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 long strips of satsuma peel
2 cocktail cherries

Combine bourbon, syrup and bitters in a shaker filled with ice. Shake and strain into two glasses with one large ice cube in each. Garnish with satsuma peel and cherry, if desired.

Satsuma Champagne Cocktail

Makes 6 cocktails

6 ounces satsuma syrup
1 bottle of Champagne

Pour 1 ounce of satsuma syrup in each Champagne glass. Top with Champagne. Garnish with satsuma twist, if desired.

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