Making flavored liqueurs or liquor infusions is easy, basically you just need a type of liquor such as vodka, and 1 or more types of flavoring. Infuse each flavor to suit your own preferences and if it ends up tasting too strong, you can always dilute it with additional liquor.
Here are some ideas of flavorings.
Fruit: Orange zest, lemon zest, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches, apples, pineapple, or dried sour cherries. Whole fruit should be sliced or mashed to allow the juices to escape. Leave the skin on for maximum flavor.
Herbs and spices: Vanilla beans, peppercorns, hot chiles, lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, whole coffee beans, thyme, basil, tarragon, rosemary.
Try combining a couple of different flavors in the same batch: such as apple-cinnamon, chile-lemongrass, lemon-tarragon, orange-cranberry, or raspberry-vanilla. Just don’t try to pack too many different things into one bottle, or you won’t be able to distinguish the flavors.
Once you’ve chosen your alcohol and your flavorings, you just need to combine them.
- Put flavorings right into the liquor, or any glass jar or bottle with a tight-fitting lid.
- Keep the container in a dark place and leave it at room temperature. If you don’t have a dark cupboard in your house, put the bottles in a grocery bag and stir them a couple of times a day.
- Depending on how strong your flavorings are, you’ll need to let them steep for anywhere from a day to a few weeks. Most fruit needs a full two to four weeks for all the flavor to be transferred to the alcohol, however chiles and most fresh spices only need a couple of days.
- Smell and taste the infusions to decide when each is ready.
If you’ve used mashed fruit, your infusion is now going to have bits of sediment in the bottom. To get rid of it, simply line a strainer with a coffee filter and slowly pour the liquor through.
When sweetening your liqueurs, don’t add sugar directly to the alcohol, you won’t be able to tell right away how sweet it is. Instead, make a simple syrup of two parts sugar to one part water. Combine in a saucepan and simmer on the stove until the sugar is dissolved. Let the syrup cool to room temperature and then sweeten the infusion to taste. Once a liqueur has been sweetened, most of them taste better after they’ve had a chance to “age” for a month or so. Aging allows the flavors to mellow and blend.
Most homemade infusions are wonderful when served unadorned, straight out of the freezer. They are also beautiful when mixed into a fresh cup coffee or drizzled over a scoop of good vanilla ice cream,
Any homemade liqueur can be substituted in a traditional cocktail with delicious results. Make amazing tasting martinis with your infused vodkas, or have fun inventing your own drinks!
Here is a delicious and easy to make recipe for lemoncello.
1 liter vodka
3 cups sugar
4 cups water
1. Zest the lemons, and place zest into a large glass bottle or jar. Pour in vodka. Cover loosely and let infuse for one week at room temperature.
2. After one week, combine sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. DO NOT STIR. Boil for 15 minutes. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature.
3. Stir vodka mixture into syrup. Strain into glass bottles, and seal each bottle with a cork. Let mixture age for 2 weeks at room temperature.
4. Place bottled liqueur into the freezer. When icy cold, serve in chilled vodka glasses or shot glasses.
For cocktail party planning and ideas, please see http://www.delish.com/entertaining-ideas/parties/cocktail-parties/.