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arcadiandj

General guidance for a "newbie" making his own ingredients?

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So I am new to making cocktails (and generally new to appreciating culinary arts in general) and am just beginning to experience "really good" cocktails. Of course, I want to make my own at home, but am having some difficulty. With some cooking experience, I understand you can have a much better experience when you make something from scratch with fresh ingredients. As such, I am wondering where would be a good place to start with regards to making your own cocktail ingredients. E.g. grenadine, cinnamon syrup, etc... Any thoughts/suggestions would be much appreciated. TIA:D

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I've gotten successful recipes for such things from various sources including kindredcocktails.com, seriouseats.com, imbibemagazine.com, and here at egullet.org. 

Googling the ingredient + "diy" will usually net a useful starting list of links.

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I'd start with simple syrup and/or gomme syrup. Just be aware that it should be stored refrigerated and has a short shelf life. That, and use real juices from fruit you just juiced yourself. The grenadine is great, really, but, I view it as the next step.

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Don't mess around with psychoactive substances or any kind of meat infusion in alcohol unless you really understand the science of alcohol solubility. These can be very dangerous. And never infuse tobacco, ever.

 

With that unfortunately necessary-in-my-experience warning out of the way, welcome! I would look at recipes you want to make and  start with whatever basic syrups they call for—simple syrup, grenadine, cinnamon, and so on. There's plenty of discussion on how best to make them on these forums, and feel free to ask away on any specifics.

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Thank you everyone. I will try grenadine first. I've tried cinnamon already, and used an extract-way too spicy!

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2 minutes ago, arcadiandj said:

Thank you everyone. I will try grenadine first. I've tried cinnamon already, and used an extract-way too spicy!

 

Not sure what you mean by "used an extract-way too spicy!"

 

Here is how I've been making my tincture of cinnamon for years  --  save that I use Wray & Nephew as the solvent rather than cognac.  (Just topped up the jar last week.)  The other listed recipes I have not tried, though they look like they would work quite well.

 

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/94621-flavoring-essences-and-tinctures/

 

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5 minutes ago, JoNorvelleWalker said:

 

Not sure what you mean by "used an extract-way too spicy!"

 

Here is how I've been making my tincture of cinnamon for years  --  save that I use Wray & Nephew as the solvent rather than cognac.  (Just topped up the jar last week.)  The other listed recipes I have not tried, though they look like they would work quite well.

 

https://forums.egullet.org/topic/94621-flavoring-essences-and-tinctures/

 

Cinnamon syrup. I am trying to make the Zombie and the syrup I've come up with is too strong/hot/spicy!

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On ‎3‎/‎5‎/‎2016 at 5:49 PM, Chris Hennes said:

Our very own Katie Loeb (@KatieLoeb) has an excellent book on the subject. I'd definitely start with grenadine, since the homemade is far superior to any store-bought that I've ever found.

 

Chris, have you ever tried feste's grenadine?

 

http://smallhandfoods.com/2009/09/grenadine/

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2 minutes ago, arcadiandj said:

Cinnamon syrup. I am trying to make the Zombie and the syrup I've come up with is too strong/hot/spicy!

 

I use 5 ml of the above linked tincture for my zombies.  You may be using cassia instead of cinnamon.  Real cinnamon should not taste hot.

 

I took a half liter jar, filled it with cinnamon, poured W&N over the cinnamon to cover, and let it sit for a long time.  Yum.

 

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14 hours ago, Rafa said:

Don't mess around with psychoactive substances or any kind of meat infusion in alcohol unless you really understand the science of alcohol solubility. These can be very dangerous. And never infuse tobacco, ever.

 

What's dangerous about meat infusions?

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2 hours ago, Chris Hennes said:

I haven't, I always make my own. One bottle of Pom makes enough grenadine to last me a year (or more!).

 

Every six months to a year I throw a bottle or two of grenadine into my Small Hand orgeat order.  Good stuff.  In addition to zombies I most recently used her grenadine to make an adaptation (not much of an adaptation) of Engin Akin's Chicken a la Georgian (chicken with pomegranate onion sauce).

 

For anyone wanting to make their own grenadine -- though I don't know why, except possibly for fun -- feste links the eGullet grenadine thread from her blog post.

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10 minutes ago, Shalmanese said:

 

What's dangerous about meat infusions?

 

As I understand pechuga mezcal is infused with meat.  The danger is I might not drink it.

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2 hours ago, Shalmanese said:

 

What's dangerous about meat infusions?

 

Fats floating in/on it can go rancid and create off flavors and carcinogens. Fat globules, even microscopic ones, can also support bacterial colonies, and cause foodborne illness.

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Exactly.

 

@JoNorvelleWalker, the meats (and other foodstuff) in pechuga mezcals are distilled, not infused, so no danger there. (Other than inadvertently feeding a vegetarian or kosher guest some pork.)

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Making your own ingredients, whether for alcoholic drinks or any foods or sauces, really depends upon the availability of time, dissatisfaction with or difficulty of obtaining commercial products, price differential, and fun. 

 

Two of the "from scratch" cocktail ingredients I find pleasurable to make and worth the time are flavored simple syrups and homemade shrubs. You can't beat shrubs you make from high quality fresh fruit when available. Both have uses in non-alcoholic drinks as well. Lavender simple syrup is a great addition to fresh lemonade and for baking. I've used flavored simple syrups and shrubs as additions to home-made applesauce and rhubarb.

 

As for infusing tobacco, peyote or lamb chops in alcohol, I can't think of a more unappealing way to poison yourself. I know people do make bacon infused drinks, but you can also use smoky tea and it's far easier to make a cuppa than smoke a pig. If I went to the effort of making my own bacon (not gonna, but admire others who do) dropping it in a glass of vodka would be at the bottom of a long list of fun ways to eat consume it.

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I feel like a grump saying this, but other than simple syrup, I would focus on buying quality ingredients (including syrups) from some place local or like The Boston Shaker (good people, too). Then squeeze fresh juices, buy good spirits and high-quality liqueurs. You then have the staples to follow recipes, modify recipes, and venture off into your own creations.

 

The analogy to food would be to bake your own bread, but don't mill your own wheat, at least to start.

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3 hours ago, EvergreenDan said:

The analogy to food would be to bake your own bread, but don't mill your own wheat, at least to start.

I disagree---I think the analogy here is more like making a sandwich. If you have access to good bread, go ahead and buy it, but there is something viscerally satisfying about making your own. Plus, something like grenadine is simply not that difficult to make (hell, depending on the recipe, it's exactly as simple to make as simple syrup, given a bottle of pomegranate juice). I wouldn't suggest starting by making your own bitters, but I don't see any reason to discourage making your own flavored syrups if you enjoy cooking.

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What Chris said.

 

I make my own orgeat and falernum - the latter in particular because a commercial one I tried was vile.  I'm on the way to making some vermouth, and this week I've done my first batch of mole bitters.  Of course I also distil my own spirits, but that might be a step too far for the 99% (approx.) of the world where it's illegal.

 

The point is, it's kinda fun.  And it's very satisfying to use your own stuff, aside from any considerations of knowing exactly what it is you're drinking.

 

Outvoted, Dan.  Get thee back to Kindred!

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If you live somewhere near good farmland (or in a big city with nice farmer's markets), homemade shrubs are ridiculously easy to make, and give you a fresh-muddled-fruit flavor without the annoyance of needing fresh fruit around (since the vinegar acts as a preservative).

 

I like 2:1:1 fruit:sugar:vinegar. You can play around with vinegars (champagne is nice and neutral, red goes well with dark berries, apple give it a big kick). Give it a stir every day for a few days, strain, bottle. You can replace parts of the acid and sugar in pretty much any shaken drink recipe. 

 

Not the best season to get started: citrus shrubs don't really pop, imo, although guava is nice. However, strawberry season is around the corner (or already starting, if you're someplace warm), and strawberry shrubs are heavenly.

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On 3/7/2016 at 1:21 PM, Katie Meadow said:

Making your own ingredients, whether for alcoholic drinks or any foods or sauces, really depends upon the availability of time, dissatisfaction with or difficulty of obtaining commercial products, price differential, and fun. 

 

Two of the "from scratch" cocktail ingredients I find pleasurable to make and worth the time are flavored simple syrups and homemade shrubs. You can't beat shrubs you make from high quality fresh fruit when available. Both have uses in non-alcoholic drinks as well. Lavender simple syrup is a great addition to fresh lemonade and for baking. I've used flavored simple syrups and shrubs as additions to home-made applesauce and rhubarb.

 

As for infusing tobacco, peyote or lamb chops in alcohol, I can't think of a more unappealing way to poison yourself. I know people do make bacon infused drinks, but you can also use smoky tea and it's far easier to make a cuppa than smoke a pig. If I went to the effort of making my own bacon (not gonna, but admire others who do) dropping it in a glass of vodka would be at the bottom of a long list of fun ways to eat consume it.

I must admit I don't know what a shrub is. I don't think I've had a cocktail with one either. What is a shrub?

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On ‎3‎/‎7‎/‎2016 at 3:21 PM, Katie Meadow said:

Making your own ingredients, whether for alcoholic drinks or any foods or sauces, really depends upon the availability of time, dissatisfaction with or difficulty of obtaining commercial products, price differential, and fun. 

 

Two of the "from scratch" cocktail ingredients I find pleasurable to make and worth the time are flavored simple syrups and homemade shrubs. You can't beat shrubs you make from high quality fresh fruit when available. Both have uses in non-alcoholic drinks as well. Lavender simple syrup is a great addition to fresh lemonade and for baking. I've used flavored simple syrups and shrubs as additions to home-made applesauce and rhubarb.

 

As for infusing tobacco, peyote or lamb chops in alcohol, I can't think of a more unappealing way to poison yourself. I know people do make bacon infused drinks, but you can also use smoky tea and it's far easier to make a cuppa than smoke a pig. If I went to the effort of making my own bacon (not gonna, but admire others who do) dropping it in a glass of vodka would be at the bottom of a long list of fun ways to eat consume it.

 

Bacon infusions that work the best seem to be from bacon fat/renderings rather than freshly cooked bacon aren't they? Not sure I would try to infuse strips of bacon!

 

As for tobacco there seems little reason to bother risking illness or death when Ted Breaux has seemingly solved the problem for us with Perique (When one can get it. Not available for those of us in the US to my knowledge and must be brought or shipped from across the pond). It isn't really exactly what I imagined when I first got it (much more of an anise based liqueur flavor to me although descriptions usually seem to say floral, lemon and tea with a hint of smoke) but it is fun to give it to people and then tell them what it is!

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On ‎3‎/‎10‎/‎2016 at 7:10 AM, arcadiandj said:

I must admit I don't know what a shrub is. I don't think I've had a cocktail with one either. What is a shrub?

 

Best to avoid knights who say "Ni"  then! :D

 

A shrub as I understand it is a sweetened vinegar based infusion typically infused with fruit or herbs. Others may have a bit more detail as I don't make them, I just drink them!

Can also be a rum based fruit infused liqueur like Clement Creole Shrub which makes an excellent substitute for curacao/triple sec in cocktails.

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