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bigbear

Homemade Liqueurs

154 posts in this topic

The Queen says that her father used to make his own liqueurs or mistelas by infusing some kind of "neutral" spirits with sugar, fruits/peels and stuff. Her favorite flavors were tangerine, coffee and mint. Does anyone do this currently?


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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The Queen says that her father used to make his own liqueurs or mistelas by infusing some kind of "neutral" spirits with sugar, fruits/peels and stuff. Her favorite flavors were tangerine, coffee and mint. Does anyone do this currently?

This guy does

I've tasted homemade Kahlua and Bailey's before. They were OK but not as good as the oringinal, they tasted like the "knock-off" brands. It would be a fun experiment though.

I didn't know Aretha Franklin's Dad, a minister, made liqueur? :huh:


Edited by guajolote (log)

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The Queen says that her father used to make his own liqueurs or mistelas by infusing some kind of "neutral" spirits with sugar, fruits/peels and stuff. Her favorite flavors were tangerine, coffee and mint. Does anyone do this currently?

Boy, does that bring back memories.

We often used to make our own fruit liqueurs by cramming various dried fruits into gallon jars and then pouring in vodka or Everclear and some lemon peels and sugar. Dried apricots were a favorite.

It was wonderful.

You'd drain the liquid into a jar, and then eat the fruit separately - over ice cream or pound cake or something.

Haven't done that in a long time, but if anyone is interested, am certain I could dig up the exact instructions.

Also, in Alaska we made what we called "Northern Comfort" :biggrin: with "highbush cranberries" (also called lingonberries) and Everclear.

It was fabulous. And warmed you up pretty quickly. Even on really cold nights.

Of course, it also put you under the table pretty quickly as well.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I've tasted homemade Kahlua and Bailey's before. They were OK but not as good as the oringinal, they tasted like the "knock-off" brands. It would be a fun experiment though.

I've made both, and can say that making your own Kahlua isn't worth it. But my recipe for Irish cream liqueur is way better than Bailey's because it uses fresh cream (it has to be refrigerated, though).


Janet A. Zimmerman, aka "JAZ"
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jzimmerman@eGullet.org
eG Ethics signatory
Author, The Healthy Pressure Cooker Cookbook and All About Cooking for Two

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But my recipe for Irish cream liqueur is way better than Bailey's because it uses fresh cream (it has to be refrigerated, though).

Could you share it with us?

Thanks


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Many "country" liqueurs:

I have made with some success:

Sloe Gin (only one I make regularly- the trick is to freeze the sloes before adding the gin and sugar)

Damson Gin

Nocino - walnut liqueur (from"Leaves from the Walnut Tree" - Taruschio)

Flavoured vodkas - lemon (leave lemon peel in the vodka bottle for a week); pepper;

Rumtopf

The juice from cherries in brandy

I agree that Cynar is disgusting. Nobody has mentioned Grappa or the Alcohol blancs (such as Framboise), or varieties of Schnapps (Doppelkorn for me), or the various Marcs...so much to try...


Edited by jackal10 (log)

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Many people still make their own liqueurs. In the mid-1970s, homemade kahlua was all the rage (although nothing to write home about; this was the rather hippie-ish, nuts-and-berries days. My sister still has a couple of bottles we made, but they are going down the drain as soon as I can get ahold of them!).... My current favorite is a raspberry cordial (not too sweet) that is perked up by a few peppercorns...icy cold...a burst of summer. Also hoping to locate blackcurrants this summer (with luck; they're undergoing a revival in New York, thanks to the efforts of Steven McKay, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Columbia County and a member of the Hudson Valley Fruit Program, who has been promoting blackcurrants among New York growers) so I can try to make my own cassis...

One website with a slew of links to liqueur recipe sites is Liqueur Web: http://www.liqueurweb.com/links.htm ...I agree with guajolote that "Gunther Anderson's: liqueur making, principles and techniques" website: http://www.guntheranderson.com/liqueurs.htm , which is linked to Liqueur Web, is particularly good....

An interesting class of liqueurs is ratafia.... Alice B. Toklas wrote about them (but don't rely on her for the *true* or complete story). These liqueurs have a long history, primarily as homemade, although there is a contemporary, sophisticated French aperitif variant (think Pineau des Charentes; Ratafia de Bourgogne and Ratafia de Champagne are famous). The homemade variety evolved over the last 2 or 3 centuries from sweetened spirits flavored with almost any imaginable fruit, spice and/or flower, to being primarily cherry-flavored today.

One of the more interesting recipes Toklas includes is:

Vespetro

This is a very old recipe and it has been necessary to consult several dictionaries to know what the exact measurements were and then to translate them into our current American usage. It amused me to find that in the seventeenth century measurements in France differed, those of the capital from those of the provinces. Vespetro is still prepared in the kitchen of a friend of mine. When asked which measurements her cook used she dismissed me with: "Paris, of course."

You will need:

  Sugar

  Brandy

  Lemons

  Angelica root

  Powdered Orrisroot

  Powdered coriander seeds

Place 2 pounds sugar in 2 quarts brandy with 3 sliced lemons, a small piece of angelica root, a pinch of powdered orris root and a pinch of powdered coriander seeds. Cover the jar and infuse for 2 weeks. Then strain, filter and bottle. Cork well.

Vespetro will cure colic, indigestion, vomiting, a stitch in the side (from which at least once during the summer the wives of the farmers at Bilignin suffered), liver complaint, difficulty in urinating, giddiness, rheumatism, difficulty in breathing; and it kills and expels worms from small children (1 teaspoon of Vespetro for 4 or 5 mornings). This liqueur will cure those who are in need of help. A man of honor and probity affirms that having been afflicted by an inflammation of the liver from the presence of a gall stone this liqueur caused the expulsion of the stone and his complete cure was achieved in this manner. (Toklas, Alice B. Aromas and Flavors of Past and Present. New York: The Lyons Press, 1996.)

Jane Grigson also writes about ratafias and points out (in Good Things) that the decline of homemade liqueur making in France -- due in part to increased regulation of eau-de-vie licensing -- "will mean an impoverishment of the hospitality which has always been so marked in poor households in the wine districts of France." (Grigson, Jane. Good Things. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1971.)

Finally, if anyone really wants a great source of recipes for American homemade liqueurs (as well as many other beverages and great social history) as made in the 1700s and 1800s, try to locate (libraries, anyone?):

  • Brown, John Hull. Early American Beverages. Rutland, Vt., C. E. Tuttle Co. [1966], which includes lots of recipes from Mary Randolph's The Virginia Housewife as well as from:
  • Mackenzie. Five Thousand Recipes in All the Useful and Domestic Arts: constituting A Complete Practical Library. Philadelphia: James Kay, Jun. and Brother, 1829.]


Edited by Aquitaine (log)

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Excellent info, Aquitaine - thanks for the links. :smile:

Michel Bras has some recipes for ratafias in his "Dessert Notebook". There are directions for making walnut leaf, celery leaf, black crurrant leaf, red fruit (strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry), sour cherry, and "Grandmother's Recipe" which includes black currents, red wine and black current leaves.

In the intro to the recipes he says that the word ratafia "comes from the creole 'ratafiat', or 't'afia', which has two meanings: 'to your health' and 'the deal is done'".

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Well, guys -- This is what comes of being longwinded and a perfectionist -- busy writing and editing while you two got your posts up! Thanks, Adam, for the elaboration. Looking forward to finding out the "limoncello" brand.... If you want any recipes, I have slews (but of course haven't made any....)

Nightscotsman, I am jealous that you have the Bras book. I suppose I'd better go get it, partly because he has a pate de fruit recipe (tomato based) that I am fascinated by.... Have you tried any recipes from it? And may I PM or e-mail you regarding the pate de fruit recipe? (You may have come across my myriad egullet threads on quince paste / damson cheese; pates de fruit was actually my jumping-off-point....)

BTW, I have written an entry on ratafia --and another on the related drink called "cherry bounce"-- for the forthcoming (2004, target date) Oxford University Press Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink (well, that's the title I know it by; its orientation is historical, so that word may be thrown into the title; FYI, editor in chief is Andrew Smith).... Hence the following observation .

Nightscotsman wrote:

Michel Bras has some recipes for ratafias in his "Dessert Notebook". There are directions for making walnut leaf, celery leaf, black crurrant leaf, red fruit (strawberry, raspberry, sour cherry), sour cherry, and "Grandmother's Recipe" which includes black currents, red wine and black current leaves.

In the intro to the recipes he says that the word ratafia "comes from the creole 'ratafiat', or 't'afia', which has two meanings: 'to your health' and 'the deal is done'".

There is some controversy regarding the etymology of ratafia. In the main, Bras is correct. In the Oxford encyclopedia entry (who knows how it will come out after copyediting, etc....) I write:

...some sources indicate that ratafia owes an etymology to French Antilles Creole for a sugar-cane based eau-de-vie (tafia), perhaps with the addition of the Malay name for the liquor arrack (araq) -- Oxford University Press owns rights to this sentence....

Now, jackal10:

Nocino - walnut liqueur (from"Leaves from the Walnut Tree" - Taruschio)

Does this require fresh walnuts? Walnut leaves? (anyone in NYC know where to obtain peach leaves or blackcurrant leaves?) jackal10: You probably just go into your backyard for them, right? Are you familiar with the following, very nice book -- which has several recipes for walnut liqueurs and walnut wine? It has a lovely introduction about the walnut industry in Perigord. Preface to the English edition begins:

This may be the first cookbook dedicated entirely to walnuts. It was originally published in France by our colleague Jean-Luc Toussaint under the title La Noix dans tous ses états: 131 Recettes Gourmandes. Toussaint is a talented cook, author, and folklorist who specializes in the history and customs of old Périgord, the region in southwestern France since renamed the Department of the Dordogne, after the river that carved its landscape. Toussaint, Jean-Luc. The Walnut Cookbook. English edition by Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden. Berkeley, California: Ten Speed Press, 1998.

Edited by Aquitaine (log)

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Nightscotsman, I am jealous that you have the Bras book. I suppose I'd better go get it, partly because he has a pate de fruit recipe (tomato based) that I am fascinated by.... Have you tried any recipes from it? And may I PM or e-mail you regarding the pate de fruit recipe? (You may have come across my myriad egullet threads on quince paste / damson cheese; pates de fruit was actually my jumping-off-point....)

I have made the tomato pate de fruit (using canned tomatoes) and I thought it was really good. Friends that I served it to also thought it was good, though several freaked out when I told them what it actually was - nobody guessed it was tomato. One thing I would change about his recipe is that he has you chop the tomatoes into large chunks and I think this caused some jelling problems. Next time I would either chop very finely, or puree.

Now, jackal10:
Nocino - walnut liqueur (from"Leaves from the Walnut Tree" - Taruschio)

Does this require fresh walnuts? Walnut leaves?

The recipe I have for nocino (from "Room for Dessert" by David Lebovitz) is made with green, underripe walnuts.

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We've made a limoncello like drink from Buddha hand citron which has an unbelievable fragrance. I'm looking forward to drinking it this summer.

There are lots of really neat liqueurs to make, the ones I've made so far are limoncello with meyer lemons, a liqueur made from an infusion of lemon verbana and thyme, cherry bounce (there are varients, we let sour cherries ferment naturally with lots of sugar and then mix it with maker's mark and let it age for a year), nocino (green walnuts, walnut leaves and a few spices) and 88 (coffee beans stuffed into an orange and submersed in vodka, then sweetened with raw sugar). My mum makes this incredible sparkling raspberry booze, which she does by sheer luck, and always turns out without exploding bottles. It's interesting to figure out which ones need lots of aging and which don't. The lemon verbana one was made after talking to a friend from Lucca and at first I thought it was disgusting. 2 years later it tastes great.

I'd like to make a rosolio this year, something with black currents and a peach pit/leaves thing. Like I mentioned in a previous discussion, I'm also thinking about trying to make an amari or two, but I haven't got around to it yet. I'm also hoarding a bunch of seville orange peel with the hopes of trying my hands at something with them. The only problem is that at this point we've run out of space for all the bottles, and we're just not drinking what we've made fast enough.

regards,

trillium

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QUOTE (Aquitaine @ Mar 31 2003, 09:24 AM)

Now, jackal10:

QUOTE

Nocino - walnut liqueur (from"Leaves from the Walnut Tree" - Taruschio)

Does this require fresh walnuts? Walnut leaves?

The recipe I have for nocino (from "Room for Dessert" by David Lebovitz) is made with green, underripe walnuts. 

This is correct....in Italy they would traditionally pick the walnuts on a Saint's day in June (can't remember which saint). I make it with nuts that are still green and quite hard. Split them (about a dozen per 750 ml of alcohol) and leave them in the sun for the summer. Strain and dilute to taste with simple syrup (I do 50:50 so the 190 proof alcohol yields 95 proof nocino). This is the Tuscan style, but I've also made a Sicilian version by adding some lemon, cinnamon, and clove.

This makes a nice degistivo, but it's also good with soda (or sparkling mineral water, which I have around more often) on crushed ice.

I've posted before on limoncello, so my recipe is here somewhere. I've got some mandarincello, for want of a better name, in the works. It's the zest from satsuma mandarins instead of lemons. Still in the infusion stage, but it's getting a very nice color.

Jim


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I'm also hoarding a bunch of seville orange peel with the hopes of trying my hands at something with them.

Maker's Mark? Maybe Old Forester?

The only problem is that at this point we've run out of space for all the bottles, and we're just not drinking what we've made fast enough.

I... ah... know this guy.... ah... who would be willing... ah... free of charge to you, mind you... to... ah... take some of this stuff... ah... off your hands... ah... as it were.


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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I'm also hoarding a bunch of seville orange peel with the hopes of trying my hands at something with them.

Maker's Mark? Maybe Old Forester?

The only problem is that at this point we've run out of space for all the bottles, and we're just not drinking what we've made fast enough.

I... ah... know this guy.... ah... who would be willing... ah... free of charge to you, mind you... to... ah... take some of this stuff... ah... off your hands... ah... as it were.

I was thinking more along the lines of an orange bitter for the Seville peels, but now, thanks to the kindness of strangers, I think I've found a replacement for my beloved Amer Picon. So hmmm...orange peel in bourbon...

As for taking some of this stuff off of our hands, well, which exactly were you feeling the most helpful about?

regards,

trillium

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.....

As for taking some of this stuff off of our hands, well, which exactly were you feeling the most helpful about? 

regards,

trillium

Thank you for your kind offer, but I was just trying to be funny. Besides, who knows how many interstate laws would be broken when shipping the stuff cross-country?


-- Jeff

"I don't care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members." -- Groucho Marx

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We've made a limoncello like drink from Buddha hand citron which has an unbelievable fragrance.  I'm looking forward to drinking it this summer.

Trillium,

How do you store your limoncello? More importantly, how do you seal it, or do you just store it in the refrigerator? I have a feeling that the making-it-safe-to-store-out-of-the-refrigerator process is not the same as for canning....

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We've made a limoncello like drink from Buddha hand citron which has an unbelievable fragrance.  I'm looking forward to drinking it this summer.

Trillium,

How do you store your limoncello? More importantly, how do you seal it, or do you just store it in the refrigerator? I have a feeling that the making-it-safe-to-store-out-of-the-refrigerator process is not the same as for canning....

Doesn't the alcohol make it safe to store at room or cellar temp?

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Trillium,

How do you store your limoncello? More importantly, how do you seal it, or do you just store it in the refrigerator?  I have a feeling that the making-it-safe-to-store-out-of-the-refrigerator process is not the same as for canning....

Doesn't the alcohol make it safe to store at room or cellar temp?

That's my assumption. Alcohol is a great bacteria killer. To tell you the truth, right now the citrus stuff is sitting in around 90% alcohol and that's it. Once it comes summertime, it'll get diluted with water and some simple syrup. Then it gets put in the freezer to drink chilled!

For aging liqueurs we have lots of options because we have a corker and capper. This means we can use beer or wine bottles, but to tell you the truth, most of the time I'm just too lazy and let it sit in the glass jar I've incubated the stuff in. I use those Italian jars with the wire closures and the rubber gaskets. If you're interested in cappers or corkers you can find them in your local homebrew shop.

regards,

trillium

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I was thinking more along the lines of an orange bitter for the Seville peels, but now, thanks to the kindness of strangers, I think I've found a replacement for my beloved Amer Picon.  So hmmm...orange peel in bourbon...

Trillium, can you elaborate? Is there an equivalent, or did you make your own Amer Picon? I would like to get or make some.

Also on the topic of "cellos," my friend made plumcello last summer, and it is superb stuff, with a gorgeous color. Has anyone else here made plumcello?

Kathy


"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."

-- State Senator John Burton, joking about

how the bill to ban production of foie gras in

California was summarized for signing by

Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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Also on the topic of "cellos," my friend made plumcello last summer, and it is superb stuff, with a gorgeous color.  Has anyone else here made plumcello?

Forgot to include this in my other post...I'm guessing you had Damson plum liqueur? Our old fruit grower from Michigan, Adolf (yep, he was that old...named before WWII), taught us how to make that. It's a beautiful color, like Welsh's grapejuice, but a little more red right? I guess it varies, but he said we should use vodka and brandy, so we did. It is beautiful.

regards,

trillium


Edited by trillium (log)

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No, I have never had Damson plum liqueur, but it sounds intriguing. Is it available to order?

My friend made her plumcello with just plums, vodka, and sugar (no brandy, but that sounds like a great addition or variation). I remember it as being sort of ruby red.

Thanks for the information on Torani Amer.


"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."

-- State Senator John Burton, joking about

how the bill to ban production of foie gras in

California was summarized for signing by

Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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Forgot to include this in my other post...I'm guessing you had Damson plum liqueur?  Our old fruit grower from Michegan, Adolf (yep, he was that old...named before WWII), taught us how to make that.  It's a beautiful color, like Welsh's grapejuice, but a little more red right?  I guess it varies, but he said we should use vodka and brandy, so we did.  It is beautiful.

Trillium, are you game for passing along the recipe for damson plum liqueur? I shamefacedly confess that I am a fairly close recipe-follower (and collector).... not that I will be able to find damsons in NYC, but I am determined to taste them some day. Plus, it would be great to pass along to jackal10, who has a damson tree in his British backyard....

BTW, I vote that Halland be given the prize for mentioning the most unusual liqueur. Amazing what mankind will do to get a buzz... imagine making lichen-flavored spirits. Truly, necessity is the mother of invention!

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Um, recipe... I don't have exact amounts so I'm not sure how helpful this will be, we just sorta winged it. I'm surprised you wouldn't be able to find damson plums in NYC, I bought them in Chicago and I saw them at the Portland farmer's market last summer. According to all the NYC boosters on this site, you can buy not only anything there, but the very, very, very best of anything!

We took 2 pint boxes of damson plums and put them in a jar with probably around 5 cups or so of vodka and 1 cup of sugar (we like things dryer, not sweet, so if the plums are quite tart and you want it sweet you could add more sugar) and let it sit in a sealed jar for about 3 months. The solution gets very dark and reddish purple, darker then ruby port. Once we felt like it, we poured off the liquid and added around 1 cup of brandy (it was a nicer one) and stored it at room temp. I think there are many variations on this; a Brit buddy says his pops makes it with gin. I have to mention that if you can, I think it's a nice idea to use organic fruits (especially citrus, they're the most heavily sprayed) for making liqueurs, a lot of the pesticides are very alcohol soluable.

I've never run across it for sale commercially, but that doesn't mean it isn't out there.

I love the idea of lichen flavored liqueur....hey I like mushrooms, maybe it wouldn't be bad!

regards,

trillium

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But I have never seen a plum that I thought of as a damson. Not sure whether they're grown commercially in the tri-state area; one of the things I want to check out in terms of horticultural history.... (BTW, are you in Portland? I am beginning to turn envious about the wealth of local fruits available to you....)

I am in Portland and I love it (but don't tell...I like how small it is...I see someone I know nearly every weekend and I don't know that many people). I'm really surprised you haven't run into damson plums at the farmer's markets in NYC.

So I guess the first step in the recipe sort of infuses the neutral vodka with the flavor of the plums and then you get the richness of the brandy later?

Yes, and actually you could use any sort of neutral spirit (eau de vie, Everclear, whatever) to suck all the flavor out of the plums. If you're intrigued, why not try it with another variety that has nice dark skins?

regards,

trillium

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The Queen says that her father used to make his own liqueurs or mistelas by infusing some kind of "neutral" spirits with sugar, fruits/peels and stuff. Her favorite flavors were tangerine, coffee and mint. Does anyone do this currently?

We do it, this year we're doing vin de noix.

Here's the thread on vin d'orange.

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