Infusing the holidays with spirits
“The only gift is a portion of yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is all the rage to infuse different liquors with flavors. You can sense that when you walk into a liquor store and discover there are 13 types of coconut rum. The unfortunate thing about commercially infused spirits is that they are infused with chemical flavors, not the real deal. Infusing your own is easy, creative, tasty, and a luscious holiday gift from your kitchen.
When you first get started with infusing liquor it is highly recommended to use clear blank canvases like white rum and vodka. They are easy to infuse with fruit, herbs, vegetables or whatever strikes your fancy. When working with darker liquors, choose strong bold flavors like vanilla and cinnamon.
Pick a mid priced alcohol for your infusions, not the cheapest, but defiantly not the most expensive. The infusion will just mask the lavish taste! I used “Smirnoff” vodka and “E & J” brandy for my experiments and they just fine.
Wash your bottles or jars in really hot water and keep clean till you use them. I put mine through the dishwasher. If you are using a canning jar, place a bit of plastic wrap between the lid and the alcohol. The alcohol will react with the metal lid otherwise and you could get some pretty funky stuff out of the deal.
Turning the infused spirits into a gift is particularly fun. Find some beautiful bottles to present your gift in, or just use a canning jar all deck out for the holidays. I ordered some bottles from “Specialty Bottles” out of Seattle. (206-382-1100)
Dress up your bottles! Use Christmas cards for decorating your bottles and tie little Christmas ornaments on it for an extra touch of love. I like to include the recipe for the infusion on the back of the tag, so the gift giving can keep on going. You can also add a recipe for your favorite cocktail or food, using the infusion.
Get started as early as possible infusing your spirits. The longer they set the better. Shake them every few days to facilitate the infusion. I like to leave all the nummies in the jar and instruct the lucky recipient to eat the fruit out of these infusions. They are great on ice cream or cake! (hiccup)
The Most important thing to remember is to have fun. There are no set rules in this playful world and the Skyy is the limit.
Cranberry Infused Vodka
This cranberry infusion in such a beautiful sight to behold. The bright red of the cranberries just screams Christmas! This is great in a cranberry cosmopolitan. You can add some orange zest and use orange juice instead of water, for a scrumptious cranberry orange infusion.
12 oz fresh cranberries
1 to ½ cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of water
750 ml bottle of vodka
In a medium saucepan, simmer the cranberries, sugar and water till the sugar is dissolved, a luscious pink syrup has formed and the most of the cranberries are intact. Take off the heat and stir a bit. Spoon the cranberries in your chosen clean receptacle and pour the vodka over it. Seal up the jar tight and shake it real good. Store in a dark, cool place and shake it to life every few days. Let it age for two to three weeks before you serve it.
Apple Jack Brandy
This brandy is so good in eggnog and hot cocoa it is hard to believe! It is also superb to cook with, like on pork chops. You may replace the apples with pears for a lovely pear infused brandy.
4 or 5 organic apples
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons of water
Or Apple juice
Cinnamon sticks (optional)
2 Vanilla beans (optional)
1000 ml bottle of brandy
In a largeish saucepan, heat up, over medium heat, the sugar and water till all the sugar dissolves. Add the apples and steam for a little bit. If you need to ad a bit more water, go ahead, but don’t burn those apples! Set off the burner and gather up your clean, wide mouth, quart jars. Scoop a cup of apples into each jar, insert a cinnamon stick or a split vanilla bean down the side of the jar and fill with brandy.
Cover the top with a bit of plastic wrap then screw the lid on, nice and snug. Shake them up and place in a cool dark place to age for 1 to 2 months. Visit them every few days and give them a shake and a pat. Strain the brandy through a fine mesh strainer before you use it. Enjoy the fruit on ice cream or cake. Have a spirited holidays!