• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

bigbear

Homemade Liqueurs

154 posts in this topic

BTW, I have written an entry on ratafia --and another on the related drink called "cherry bounce"

Bumping this thread to ask about Ratafia.

When I was in high school in the midwest, several of the students showed up at a track meet drunk. They claimed they had "accidentally" drunk some Cherry Bounce left in a cup by their parents. The math teacher (an annoying man) on the "sports council" reasoned they were guilty, based on the assumption no sane person would drink something in a cup without rinsing it first.

In any case, I've recently seen a recipe for a Clementine Ratafia* that was used in jam preparation and have been thinking about some other interesting fruits and combinations.

Blood Orange, Star Anise, and Black Pepper

Pomelo

Has anyone else experimented with making Ratafia or using it as an ingredient in cocktails?

Regards,

Erik

*NY Times 13 Feb 2005,

THE WAY WE EAT; Jelly's Last Jam

By AMANDA HESSER (NYT) 1800 words

Late Edition - Final , Section 6 , Page 61 , Column 3


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am always making liquers, of course here limoncello is a biggie..

Mostly i like the single flavors I make a sage.. and a clementine and let hte flavors shine.

One of my favorite blends.. is from the south of france and I bought the BLEND at the pharmacy!

Bitter orange, quinine bark.. and other goodies.. it was first soaked in everclear.. and then blended with sugar and red wine..

MAde a Vermouth.. to mix with tonic.. or have on the rocks! fabulously refreshing

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
BTW, I have written an entry on ratafia --and another on the related drink called "cherry bounce"

...

In any case, I've recently seen a recipe for a Clementine Ratafia* that was used in jam preparation and have been thinking about some other interesting fruits and combinations.

Blood Orange, Star Anise, and Black Pepper

Pomelo

Has anyone else experimented with making Ratafia or using it as an ingredient in cocktails?

...

It sounds very interesting. I think it is interesting to think of ways to use it in a cocktail as well. Here is a good thread re: homemade cordials and liqueurs where you may get some other ideas: click


"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mostly i like the single flavors  I make a sage... it was first soaked in everclear.. and then blended with sugar and red wine..

MAde a Vermouth.. to mix with tonic.. or have on the rocks! fabulously refreshing

divinia,

I'd love to know what recipe you use for the sage. Though, I am having a hard time imagining the taste. Do you use fresh garden sage (Salvia officinalis)?

I've been intrigued by one of our CA native herbs, Yerba Buena, Satureja douglasii, (same Genus as the herb savory,) which has a really interesting lightly mint-thyme smell and flavor. I grew it last year and was hoping to try it in some cocktails last year but it didn't survive long enough in my garden.

How do you make your own vermouth?

Erik


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi,

Well, it almost time to bottle my Blood Orange, Black Pepper, and Star Anise ratafia. It certainly has a nice color. Will post some photos soon.

I want to try lemon/oregano (after having a fantastic lemon/oregano jam at Babbo) and strawberry next.

Not too hard to find limoncello recipes; but, am not sure if I have found a good strawberry one yet.

On the page below I found one in Italian, and from the babel fish translation, the procedure appears similar to limoncello, though the sugar syrup and strawberries are combined before steeping. In one other recipe I found, you layer the strawberries and sugar and cover them with alcohol. No water in that recipe. Opinions?

Here are the instructions in Italian:

"Far bollire l'acqua con lo zucchero in modo da ottenere uno sciroppo che si far\`{a} poi raffreddare; versare quindi in un vaso le fragole private dei piccioli e lavate, l'alcool e lo sciroppo. Far macerare per un mese, filtrare ed imbottigliare. Far stagionare il liquore per sei mesi."

http://cucina.piemonte.net/pierre/bevande/...ore_fragole.asp

Other recipe:

http://www.aspoonfulofsugar.net/blog/2004/..._beginning.html

Erik


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the most succesful liqueurs I've made at home was a dried fig and vanilla brew...

Inspired on holiday in Salzburg, we were given a shot glass of figgy, syrupy vodka with a fresh fig in it, delicious!

I came home, bought some vodka and a couple of packets of dried figs, chopped the figs into a big glass jar, threw in a vanilla pod (whole) and 200g caster sugar, poured on the vodka and ignored it for, a year, a little more?

Bottled it finally, it's dark tawny in colour and smells like a figgy marzipan, tastes heavenly.

The figs made a gorgeous boozy jam to boot!

Right now I have a bottle of krupnik made last Christmas, iut's a honey, orange peel, clove and vanilla vodka based drink, really good slightly warmed.

Hiding out in a dark cool corner in our shed I have rhubarb scnapps ala nigella lawson and a spiced apple brandy, it just looks so gorgeous.


Spam in my pantry at home.

Think of expiration, better read the label now.

Spam breakfast, dinner or lunch.

Think about how it's been pre-cooked, wonder if I'll just eat it cold.

wierd al ~ spam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a picture of my Blood Orange Ratafia. I guess I would expect some sediment/cloudiness, since juice is used. Should I be concerned? So far no vomiting or sickness after drinking. Keeping it in the refridgerator.

6 blood oranges, zest and juice, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 star anise, 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 2 parts vodka to one part orange stuff. I do like the flavor the star anise adds. Don't think I will add the peppercorns next year. While the zip they give it isn't unpleasant, it distracts a bit from the delicious berry flavor of the blood oranges.

bloodorange.jpg

Here're the new experiments from last week. I gotta get one of those microplane zesters.

strawberrylimoncello.jpg


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I got a very nice quince liqueur recipe from a Mediterranean gardening group I participate in. I make it every year (it's getting about that time...)

10 large ripe quinces (smell them, they should be really fragrant)

one liter grappa

15 bitter almonds

4 cloves

2 3-inch sticks of cinnamon.

Quarter and seed quinces, grate them. Add the other ingredients and put into a glass jar, cover with the grappa. Shake occasionally, don't worry if the top layer of quince turns brown, it just makes the final liqueur more golden in color. Let stand at least 2 months in a warm dark place.

Squeeze the liquid out of the pulp and do a basic filtering through cotton, and sweeten to taste with simple sugar syrup, and if the alchol is a bit weak (it may be, if you used really big quinces -- you can use either more grappa or pure alcohol). There is no way to completely filter it clear; you have to let it sit for several months. At some point it will rather suddenly precipitate; let this process go on for at least a month and it will be crystal clear. Decant into nice bottles.

It's good any time of the year, but I especially like it in the summer over ice.


"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I got a very nice quince liqueur recipe from a Mediterranean gardening group I participate in.  I make it every year (it's getting about that time...)

10 large ripe quinces (smell them, they should be really fragrant)

one liter grappa

15 bitter almonds

4 cloves

2 3-inch sticks of cinnamon.

That does sound interesting. I've vowed to try a couple new things with Quinces this fall. Perhaps this will be one of them. Though, I guess selling bitter almonds is illegal here in the states, so I will have a hard time following the recipe exactly. Some folks apparently substitute peach or apricot kernels. I don't have experience with trying that myself, yet. I even chickened out of leaving the pits in my plum and pluout liqueurs this summer.

-Erik


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I got a very nice quince liqueur recipe from a Mediterranean gardening group I participate in.  I make it every year (it's getting about that time...)

10 large ripe quinces (smell them, they should be really fragrant)

one liter grappa

15 bitter almonds

4 cloves

2 3-inch sticks of cinnamon.

Quarter and seed quinces, grate them.  Add the other ingredients and put into a glass jar, cover with the grappa.  Shake occasionally, don't worry if the top layer of quince turns brown, it just makes the final liqueur more golden in color.  Let stand at least 2 months in a warm dark place.

Squeeze the liquid out of the pulp and do a basic filtering through cotton, and sweeten to taste with simple sugar syrup, and if the alchol is a bit weak (it may be, if you used really big quinces -- you can use either more grappa or pure alcohol).  There is no way to completely filter it clear; you have to let it sit for several months.  At some point it will rather suddenly precipitate; let this process go on for at least a month and it will be crystal clear. Decant into nice bottles.

It's good any time of the year, but I especially like it in the summer over ice.

This is very similar to an 18thC English recipe I have seen. I have made it a few times and it is very good.

"Ratafia of Quinces"

You must have some Quinces, and rasp them with a Grater; all being grated, you must have a Piece of strong Cloth, put in a small handful, and squeese it with all your Might, that the Juice may come from it; when all is squeesed and you have all the Juice, put it in a Preserving pan, let it take just one single Boiling, and let it cool; being cooled, measure two Quarts of Juice and two Quarts of Brandy, Measure by Measure, and clarify some Sugar; to each two Quarts, ten Ounces of Sugar, a Piece of Cinnamon, four Cloves, and three or four Grains of white Pepper whole; stop up your Jug very close, put it aside for two or three Months, put it through a Straining-bag, until it come very clear, and put it up in Bottles flopped very close.

La Chapelle, "The Modern Cook" (London: 1733)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That does sound interesting.  I've vowed to try a couple new things with Quinces this fall.  Perhaps this will be one of them.  Though, I guess selling bitter almonds is illegal here in the states, so I will have a hard time following the recipe exactly.  Some folks apparently substitute peach or apricot kernels.  I don't have experience with trying that myself, yet.  I even chickened out of leaving the pits in my plum and pluout liqueurs this summer.

-Erik

Can you describe your plouot and plum liqueurs? I have made some peach, blackberry and strawberry liquors this summer and they turned out well using eau de vies. The vodka ones were not as great, but I am not that experienced with vodka and may not have selected a very good type. Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can you describe your plouot and plum liqueurs?  I have made some...using eau de vies. The vodka ones were not as great...

Mrs. P,

For both of these I pitted and quartered 2 pounds of fruit, covered with 1 bottle of vodka and macerated for a month in 1.5L jars. Then I filtered out the solids with cheese cloth, filtered again through paper towels, sweetened with 2:1 simple syrup, and am currently aging them. I am planning on filtering and bottling this weekend, so I will post pictures.

For the Dapple Dandy Pluots, I used my standard vodka, Finlandia. The pluot smelled very good when I filtered, though it held on to a lot of the liquid in a mushy paste that was a very slow to filter. I did not add much simple to it as it smelled pretty sweet already. It is a light brown-ish pink.

For the sugar plums (hybrid prune plums) as an experiment I used 100 proof Absolut. I doubt I'll use 100 proof again, since it costs about as much for 750L as 80 proof vodka costs for 1.75L. I'm hoping this is OK. When I filtered this one, it seemed a little close to cough syrup. It is very dark in color.

Eau de vies? Since I am not sure where you are from you will have to tell me what you mean here. I live in the US, so to me, eau de vie usually means very expensive fruit infused liquor.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Finally got around to filtering some liqueurs.

This is the pomegranate after first filtering through cheesecloth on the left and the pluot after second filtering through chemex on the right.

pluotpomegranate.jpg

Here's the SugarPlum (Prune Plum). This is darker than my Nocino!

sugarplum.jpg

The pluot smells great. The apricot seems to come to dominance after macerating. The SugarPlum still smells like cough drops to me.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can you describe your plouot and plum liqueurs?  I have made some...using eau de vies. The vodka ones were not as great...

Eau de vies? Since I am not sure where you are from you will have to tell me what you mean here. I live in the US, so to me, eau de vie usually means very expensive fruit infused liquor.

Cool looking stuff!

This is from a while back, I see, but I thought I might as well offer a little clarification. Eaux de vie are not infused. An eau de vie is, rather, an unaged distillate of fruit: the fruit is pressed to extract the juice; the juice is fermented, and the fermented juice is distilled. A feature of eau de vie is that it is colorless and unaged. So Calvados, for example, which is an aged spirit, would not commonly be called an eau de vie. Common eaux de vie are cherry, pear, strawberry, raspberry and apricot.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cool looking stuff!

This is from a while back, I see, but I thought I might as well offer a little clarification.  Eaux de vie are not infused.  An eau de vie is, rather, an unaged distillate of fruit: the fruit is pressed to extract the juice; the juice is fermented, and the fermented juice is distilled.  A feature of eau de vie is that it is colorless and unaged.  So Calvados, for example, which is an aged spirit, would not commonly be called an eau de vie.  Common eaux de vie are cherry, pear, strawberry, raspberry and apricot.

Thanks for clarifying. I keep getting these things confused.

Where do the Schnapps, like Berentzen's, fit in? Are those made like liqueurs or Eau de Vie?

Seems to me at 20% ABV they may have more in common with liqueurs. But then there's the high power stuff like Rumplemintze.

I've read that true European schnapps are largely unavailable here and are not usually sweetened.

PS. Checked on the web and most of Berentzen's "schnapps" products appear to be flavored grain neutral spirits.


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wonder how astringent the quince liqueur is?  If it was astringent or tartish, I can see really liking it in the summer.  If it ends up on the sweet side like my nocino did, it will just sit around forever, unappreciated.

I still haven't seen any quinces this year. I'm hoping they will show up at my farmers' market soon.

I can't stand overly sweet liqueurs either. As a starting point, I routinely cut the sugar or sugar syrup of most recipes in half. I seldom end up adding more. I just like the flavor of the thing.

edited to clarify.


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
This is from a while back, I see, but I thought I might as well offer a little clarification.  Eaux de vie are not infused.  An eau de vie is, rather, an unaged distillate of fruit: the fruit is pressed to extract the juice; the juice is fermented, and the fermented juice is distilled.  A feature of eau de vie is that it is colorless and unaged.  So Calvados, for example, which is an aged spirit, would not commonly be called an eau de vie.  Common eaux de vie are cherry, pear, strawberry, raspberry and apricot.

Sam,

I recently bought some Creme de Griotte (excellent product, BTW) from G.W. Massenez and was doing a bit of poking around on their web site while I was waiting for some Perl modules to install (whee!).

They say, raspberries and other wild berries don't have enough sugar to ferment to a high enough proof on their own, so, in fact, those eau de vies are made by macerating the fruit in alcohol and then re-distilling.

Massenez Website


Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Barcelona calling:

The origins of ratafia are certainly contested - although of course it is, beyond doubt, a Catalan drink (it has a Denominacion Geografica label from the Ministry of Agriculture) and a Gironan one, but which Garrotxan town exactly is it from... Besalu? Olot?... It started as a medicinal draught (and it still tastes like it), and its chief components are "Camomila, hierbaluisa, la piel de un limón, nuez moscada y nueces verdes" "chamomile, lemon verbena, lemon peel, nutmeg and green walnuts" which are steeped in booze for "40 days and 40 nights" in a glass jug or jar. Then it's filtered and matured for a coupleof months more, usually in wood. Then water and sugar is added to get the right proof and taste.

19th century Catalan priest-poet Jacint Verdaguer claims the name comes from the latin rata fiat - meaning 'agreed', more or less. Three bishops got together one day for some discussion or other. Once they'd come to an agreement they decided to toast it with the drink of the house - which at the time was nameless. Either a misunderstanding led them to confuse 'rata fiat' with teh name of the hooch, or they purposely named it such.

Sometimes it's drunk with milk - a beverage called - pure breast milk!

Catalan readers may be interested in the "Book of Ratafia" - El llibre de la ratafia RATAFÍAS Y LICORES DE HIERBAS DE TODO EL MUNDO by Jaume Fabrega.

my most recent weird licor experience though was licor de calcot (a kind of Catalan spring onion) which tastes, funnily enough, like onions and is perhaps best kept for pickling or such like. or as an emetic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It started as a medicinal draught (and it still tastes like it), and its chief components are ..."chamomile, lemon verbena, lemon peel, nutmeg and green walnuts" which are steeped in booze for "40 days and 40 nights" in a glass jug or jar. Then it's filtered and matured for a coupleof months more, usually in wood. Then water and sugar is added to get the right proof and taste.

...

Sometimes it's drunk with milk - a beverage called - pure breast milk!

...

Are ratafias made with other ingredients in Spain, or only the green walnut one? The ingredients aren't that far from a typical Italian Nocino. What would the typical "booze" be in Spain?

I haven't ever tried mixing Nocino with dairy; but, I suppose it could be OK...Might even be an interesting addition to walnut gelato.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been kicking the idea of an infusion based on some of the ingredients in Mexican Mole sauces for some time now. Finally got to making it.

1/2 cup whole cocoa beans, roasted at 250F until fragrant, crushed

1/2 cup pumpking seeds, toasted

3 sticks mexican cinnamon, crushed

2 whole cloves

3 ancho chiles, seeded and toasted until fragrant

1/2 cup dry apricots, briefly blanched

4 cups vodka

1 piloncillo

1/3 cup water

Combine dry ingredients in clean container, cover with vodka, and steep for 3 weeks. Pour through cheesecloth covered sieve, and return to container. Dissolve piloncillo in water and add to filtered mixture. Let stand for two more weeks. Pour off liquid, leaving any sediment in container. Bottle in a clean container.

Not quite sure what it is. Bitter chocolate-chile liqueur? Not quite sweet enough. Chile-chocolate bitters? Not quite bitter or medicinal enough.

It's mostly bitter chocolate with a hint of spice and chile. No cocktail applications as yet. I was hoping it would be an interesting addition to an Ace of Clubs; but, the spices don't play nice with the lime and the chocolate flavor is too strong. I'm thinking something like a Manhattan with Bourbon or a rich rum might be nice.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Last summer I made some apricot liqueur with some spices---peppercorn and anise among them (I cleverly lost my list of what and how much). A few months ago it had a very strong anise smell, a mysterious sour-sweet tang, and an anise-apricot flavor; now there's a much more pronounced pepper heat with the same anise nose and an apricot aftertaste. Wonder what it'll be like by mid-spring...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am in the process of making Limoncello (about 10 days into it now) and was wondering if anyone has made a similar batch using peaches or melons (cantaloupe)?

My base alcohol is Everclear 151 - and I would like to make a Peach flavored, as well as Melon flavored, alcohol once my Limoncello is ready.

I remember having a chilled cantaloupe vodka in San Marino some years ago after dinner and it was the best damn drink I've ever had. I even brought a bottle back from Italy - but haven't seen (or tasted) it since.

Any suggestions?

Thank you.

Mark

Shanghai Eats (and Drinks...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't call a peach- or melon-infused vodka a "-cello" since that's something I think is probably most appropriate for citrus zest-infused, sweetened alcohol.

Anyway, for what you want to do, I'd simply chop up some fruit, cover it with 100 proof vodka and infuse until you get the intensity of flavor you're after. Then strain out the fruit and sweeten with rich simple syrup to taste, if desired.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It might be a dumb question, but does it matter if I use 151 Everclear in terms of what happens to the fruit? Or would I be better off using 100 proof vodka?

The reason I ask is because I prefer diluting the pure alochol with syrup so I don't have a "vodka" taste, but if the stronger alcohol will do something nasty to the fruit, then I'd rather know that before attempting to make it.

And how long (guesstimate) would the peaches and/or melons need to sit in the alchohol before it could be considered "ready to drink?".

Thanks.

Mark

Shanghai Eats (and Drinks...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It's not that the high proof alcohol will do something nasty to the fruit. Rather, it's the case that the high proof alcohol is already pretty nasty.

The problem with using something like 151 proof Everclear, or any other grain alcohol, is that they are not highly refined. A big part of the vodka-making process is repeated re-distillation (rectification) and filtration to ensure that the result is, to the greatest extent possible, an azeotropic solution of ethanol and water at 96% abv. This is one of the things that makes vodka so smooth. Everclear and other high proof grain alcohols, on the other hand, do not seem to receive this treatment. (Companies that use high proof alcohol, such as the Italian limoncello makers, seem to do some degree of refinement to smooth out the end product, but this does not seem to be available at retail.)

Try this experiment: pour yourself an ounce of 100 proof Smirnoff, and then make yourself an ounce of "100 proof Everclear" by mixing 2/3 ounce of Everclear 151 and 1/3 ounce of neutral-tasting spring water. Chill both in the freezer for an hour and then taste them. Taste them again at room temperature. The "100 proof Everclear" will be very rough compared to the 100 proof Smirnoff.

As for the infusion time, that's hard to say. Just try a tiny bit of it every day until you get a flavor you like.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.