Caramel syrup is a great way to give a rich caramel flavor to alcohol infusions and cocktails.
Caramel Simple Syrup
2 cups white sugar
2 cups water
Place the sugar in a heavy bottomed saucepan and turn heat on low. Allow the sugar to start melting slowly. No need to stir until the sugar begins to melt (which may take more than 10 minutes depending on how hot your burner is). As the sugar starts melting, turn the melted sugar on top of the undissolved sugar. Allow the sugar to continue to melt, stirring only occasionally. Once the sugar has fully dissolved, allow the sugar to come to a boil, making sure the sugar is not sticking to the sides of the pan.
Continue to boil until the sugar reaches a rich amber/copper color. Once it has reached the desired color, remove the pan from the heat.
I recommend wearing oven mitts/gloves and long sleeves for the next step as this can splatter and melted sugar is very dangerous.
Slowly pour the water into the sugar, stirring continuously until it becomes a smooth liquid. If there are any hard bits of sugar/caramel that won’t dissolve in the water, return the pan to the stove on low just until they melt, stirring constantly.
Remove from heat and allow to cool somewhat. Place in a heatproof glass jar and close tightly.
This will keep indefinitely in the refrigerator. Be sure to allow this to cool completely before adding it to any alcohol recipes.
If you like whiskey and honey, and a little bit lot of spice, this one is for you!
It is fun to come up with booze infusion ideas for friends. All you have to do is pay attention to things that they like, and do your best to infuse their favorite flavors into their alcohol of choice.
A friend recently told me that she loves honey whiskey. She also told me that she likes spicy food, “the hotter the better”. That same friend just had a birthday. So her birthday gift was Habanero Honey Whiskey. Well, Habanero Honey Whiskey and glitter, because “glitter and whiskey define me” she said.
Habanero Honey Whiskey
1/4 cup honey (about 85 grams)
1 medium cinnamon stick (about 4 grams)
1 habanero pepper* (optional)
Lemon zest – from about 1/3 to 1/2 of a medium lemon (about 5 grams of zest)
1 1/2 ounces Water
1 cup Bourbon or Whiskey of your choice
Remove the stem of the habanero and quarter the pepper, keeping the seeds intact. Place the first five ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer on low heat. Simmer for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the habanero with tongs or a fork. Allow the rest of the mixture to cool completely. Strain out the solids with a mesh strainer.
Pour the honey mixture into a pint jar or other infusion vessel. Add the bourbon or whiskey, and close the jar tight. Shake well to combine.
After 24-48 hours, strain through a coffee filter, and let the infusion rest for a few days before drinking.
Depending on how much heat you can take, feel free to use only part of the habanero or omit the seeds.
* Use caution when handling hot peppers. Use gloves if possible and wash hands thoroughly.
This infusion has the sweetness of the honey, the heat of the habanero, and it sure makes me want some honey whiskey!
Happy 2014! My New Year’s Resolution is to infuse more booze! I mean it. I didn’t post very many new recipes last year, and I promise you that this year will be different.
Our first infusion for this year is Winter Spice Bourbon. Let’s get right to it.
Winter Spice Bourbon
1 medium cinnamon stick (about 4 grams)
3 whole cloves
10 whole allspice berries
zest of 1 orange (I peeled it into large strips, but you could use a microplane)
20 grams (about 4 halves) dried plums or other dried fruit (you could use raisins or currants)
2 cups (480 mL) Bourbon or whiskey of your choice
Combine all ingredients in a large jar or bottle, close tight. Shake well and let it sit for a few days to a few weeks. I filtered mine at 12 days, and the flavor it strong. I think you could certainly filter sooner if it tastes to your liking. Let the infusion rest for a week or so after filtering, the flavor will mellow.
This infusion will be great in lots of cocktails. Try it in a winter hot toddy, a manhattan, old fashioned, or just sip it on its own.
I have more infusions in the works… so stay tuned!
What do you do if your Secret Santa recipient says they like peppermint bark candy and Grey Goose Vodka? You make peppermint bark liqueur!
The flavor of this liqueur is very pepperminty! The chocolate flavor is more subtle, but to remedy that, I’ve increased the cacao nibs in the recipe. (Plus, I had to gift this to my co-worker before it had a lot of time to infuse. A longer infusion time will definitely help!)
Peppermint Bark Vodka
1.5 ounces Candy Canes (about 10 mini candy canes) or Peppermint Candies
1/3-1/2 cup Cacao Nibs
1 1/2 cups Vodka
4 Tablespoons Simple Syrup (or to taste)
Crush the candy canes. Combine first three ingredients in a jar, and close tightly. Shake well to combine. The candy canes will dissolve quickly, but it will take a while for the cacao nibs to infuse properly into the vodka. Ideally, you would wait about 4 weeks for full infusion. I only had 10 days for mine. I tried filtering the liqueur, but I wanted the cacao nibs to infuse further. So I added the simple syrup to taste, and then put some of the nibs back into the gift bottle. Normally I am not a proponent of gifting without filtering, but what I liked about this infusion is that the cacao nibs in the liqueur give it a bit of a “snow globe” look. The presentation is actually lovely.
If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own peppermint bark liqueur, or if you like it much heavier on the chocolate, I would recommend the Peppermint Bark Liqueur from Eastside Distilling. It is very chocolatey and very delicious.
Last year, at the suggestion of Evelyn from Momsicle, our small group of Portland area bloggers got together for a Halloween candy-inspired infusion party. This post is intended to continue the series of Halloween infusions that we started last year. The infusions we made last year included Caramel Apple Liqueur and Chocolate Orange Liqueur.
The recipe I am about to give you was originally made for that same gathering. When I think of Halloween, I have visions of popcorn balls and caramel corn. I was determined to make a caramel corn liqueur. I made two variations. One was with raw corn, the other with boiled corn. I infused them each in vodka and added caramel syrup. The trouble was, the corn flavor was not very strong. I probably should have infused actual popcorn into the vodka. The resulting liqueur was still delicious! It just didn’t quite have the flavor profile I was going for.
Eventually, I gave a few bottles of the caramel corn liqueur to two different friends. Both of them declared that this was their favorite! So I decided I should share the caramel-goodness with you too!
Caramel Corn Liqueur
1 medium-sized ear of corn (about one cup of corn kernels)
You can try either raw corn or cooked (as mentioned above, we tried both raw and boiled). I think grilled would be nice (or try adding air-popped popcorn). Cut the corn off the cob, and place it in a canning jar or other bottle. Add the vodka, and allow to infuse until it reaches your desired flavor (we infused for about 2 months, but I’m sure you could do a much shorter time).
Make the Caramel Simple Syrup according to directions. Allow the syrup to cool completely before adding to the corn-vodka infusion. Begin to add the caramel syrup to the corn-vodka infusion one Tablespoon at a time until it reaches your desired flavor.
Chill, and enjoy on its own, or in some sweet cocktails!
This time of year is very busy for food preservationists. It can be very easy to get overwhelmed with tomato projects. But this is very important. Put the tomatoes down and get yourself some plums. You know, those lovely Italian Prune-plums. The same variety we used to make Plum Liqueur.
I have tried a lot of new canning recipes this year… but I have a favorite that I am about to share with you. And I promise you will love it!
Armed with a plethora of Italian prune-plums, I made a batch of plum sauce and then decided I wanted to make some stewed plums with a sugary-boozy sauce. We typically make boozy-sugary preserved cherries, but I didn’t make any this year so I thought this would be a good stand in for holiday gift giving. We opened up a jar last night, and it was pure heaven! I just finished mopping up the last of the sauce with a piece of angelfood cake. That is a combination that you must try.
4 to 4 1/2 lbs plums (we used the Italian prune plums, but you could probably use any variety)
1 lb. dark brown sugar
4 c. water
1 1/2 – 2 c. brandy (or other booze of your choice) – optional
4 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
4-8 pieces of star anise – optional
8 whole cloves
1 1/2″ piece of ginger, cut into 8 slices
Prepare a hot water bath canner, jars, lids, etc. Sterilize the jars.
Halve the plums and remove the pits.
With a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the oranges in long strips, being careful not to remove the white pith. Juice the oranges and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, brown sugar, and orange juice. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.
In hot sterilized jars, place the following in each jar:
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 whole clove
1 slice of ginger
1 star anise (optional)
1-2 long strips of orange zest
Pack the plums into the jars, cut-side down. Pack the fruit really well, leaving 1 inch of headspace.*
Pour 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of brandy into each jar (if using)
Pour sugar syrup into each jar, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Use a chopstick to remove any air bubbles and add more syrup if needed.
Wipe the rims of the jars, and top with jar lid and jar ring. Bring to finger-tip tightness.
Place pints in a water-bath canner and bring to a boil. After it comes to a full, rolling boil, process for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and remove the lid. Leave jars in canner for another 5 minutes. Remove from canner.
*The headspace is very important, be sure to leave a full inch.
When I was making the syrup, I was afraid it would be overly sweet. But I assure you, the finished product will be perfect. It tastes delightfully of plums, while having hints of orange and a gentle spice of cinnamon, clove and ginger. (I have not tried the ones with star anise yet…)
We made a few jars with the star anise, and a few without. We even made some jars without the brandy for those who are alcohol-free.
If you would like to try a different spirit in this, I think bourbon or rum would be very nice.
Going to a fun summer party or cookout? Bring some infused booze!
When we were invited to a family barbeque, I knew the best thing to bring would be a fun and easy infusion. I had a few weeks, so I knew there would be time to allow the flavors to infuse well. What did we make? Well, because we had blueberries and oranges in the house, I decided to be lazy and just go with whatever was handy. But really, you can come up with any combination you want. While we already had an infusion recipe for Blueberry Gin, we wanted to test out a little easier version. I think you will find this one to be really simple! (No cooking of the berries like the previous version.)
For a summer barbeque, we also wanted to be able to make easy, refreshing cocktails, so we chose an infusion that could easily be made into a simple highball.
3 c. Frozen Blueberries (smashed)*
Zest of 1 Orange
750 mL Clear Liquor – 80 proof (we used Gin, but you could use vodka, rum, cachaça)
1/3 c. sugar
Combine all ingredients into a large glass jar or vessel. Shake well to combine. Infuse for 2-3 weeks or longer, depending on when your party is. Strain and filter, and return to the bottle (or something larger). Now you are ready to party!
*Note: we used frozen berries, as I did in our previous Blueberry Gin, but you could try fresh as well.
For the party, we thought it would be easiest to make Gin & Tonics. And who wouldn’t love a Blueberry-Orange G&T? All you need are a few bottles of tonic, a few lemons (we thought the lemon would go better with the blueberry-orange flavor than lime) and your home-infused booze!
Blueberry-Orange Gin & Tonic
2 oz. Blueberry-Orange Liqueur
4 oz. Tonic
Fill glass with ice. Add the blueberry-orange liqueur and tonic. Stir well, squeeze the lemon wedge and add to the glass. Alternatively, you could mix up a big batch in a pitcher and let everyone help themselves. (This did not last long at our gathering, so you could make a double or triple batch.)
Now go enjoy your party!
What kind of fun infusions will you bring to summer barbeques and cookouts this year? (Yes, sangria counts…)
Spring is in the air! We finally had a few warm and sunny days here in Portland. Before you know it, the summer berries and fruits will be blooming and ripening… so I figured we better share a winter infusion before it gets too late!
Have you ever tried Barrel-Aged Cocktails? The concept is to make a large batch of a cocktail, and pour it into a wood barrel to impart subtlety, flavor and distinction into the cocktail. Living in Portland, it is easy to get your hands on a great barrel-aged cocktail. The best known and my favorite location for a barrel-aged cocktail is Clyde Common thanks to Jeffrey Morgenthaler.
It is pretty easy to get your hands on an oak barrel. You can even get them in small sizes, like one liter. But when I stumbled upon The Barrel Mill Oak Infusion Spirals at my favorite home brew supply store, I knew I wanted to test out a different method of oak-aged cocktails. Adapting Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s Rye Manhattan recipe to a smaller scale, I added the contents to a quart jar, and then cut off a section of the oak infusion spiral and placed it in the premixed cocktail jar. After waiting the requisite five weeks, we did a taste-test comparing the Oak-Aged Manhattan to an un-aged Rye Manhattan. We really enjoyed the Oak-Aged version more, noting that it did have more depth than the un-aged counterpart.
I have since learned that Tuthilltown makes a Barrel-Aged Cocktail Kit. This would be a very fun and easy way for you to try this at home.
Add all above ingredients to a quart-sized mason jar and close tightly. Allow to infuse for 5-6 weeks. You can either leave it in your jar and pour cocktails straight into the shaker from there, or strain and bottle into smaller bottles for gifts.
One of the great things about winter is citrus fruit! Ok, ok, I don’t live in a citrus-growing area. But that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a tasty lemon pie, and start fermenting some spicy lime pickles… and oh yeah… we can’t forget the limoncello!
There are tons of limoncello recipes out there, and I’m sure that many of them are absolutely wonderful. Most of them include zesting the fruit and infusing for lengthy periods of time. Now typically, that kind of thing is right up my alley. Any of you who have been following us for long can attest to my affinity for long infusion times. But for me, limoncello is different.
A few years ago, we were visiting some friends and they pulled out a lovely bottle of homemade limoncello from the freezer. It was so lemony and tart, and just perfect. It was the best limoncello I ever had! I managed to get the recipe and now I will share it with you. I’m afraid that I do not know the source of the recipe, so I apologize for not appropriately giving credit.
Quick and Simple Limoncello
1 Litre of Vodka (80 proof is fine)
1 1/2 c. Sugar
Slice the lemons in half, and juice all of them. Set the juice aside and reserve for another purpose.
Place the lemon peels, vodka, and sugar in a large jar (you will probably be able to just squeeze this into a 1/2 gallon jar). Make sure all of the lemon peels are submerged in the vodka (stack them together if necessary) and seal the jar tight. Stir or shake it daily until all the sugar has dissolved, or about a week.
Strain the liquid, but do not squeeze the lemons it will make the infusion bitter. You can gently press a bit of the liquid out of the lemons with the back of a wooden spoon, but make sure you don’t give them much pressure. After you have filtered the rest of the liquid, bottle it and enjoy!
I’m sure there are tons of amazing cocktail recipes to use with this limoncello, but I prefer to store mine in the freezer and drink it straight, well-chilled.
If you have any desire to make limoncello this year, please try this fast and easy version. It is spectacular!
3-4 generous pinches of cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)
Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and simmer for 30 seconds. Remove from heat, pour into a tea cup or mug and garnish with a chili pepper.
It is cold out, so we decided to do this as a heated drink. It would probably taste just as delicious served cold.
So this may not be your typical cleanse, and this may not be your typical cocktail. But we’ve never been ones to adhere to the standard drinks. This is delicious! You’ll enjoy this much more than your New Year’s diet or cleanse!
What is your favorite way to celebrate your unconventional spirit… in a cocktail?