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bigbear

Homemade Liqueurs

180 posts in this topic

Host note, moved from Stomping Through the Savoy, A to Zed

Oh, hey, there's a cocktail coming up with Crème de Noyeau in it.

Are there any decent brands of this available or do I just have to bite the bullet and buy the Hiram Walker?

Substitutions?  Red Food Coloring and Luxardo Amaretto di Saschira?  That would be ideal, since I've already got both.

I've never had Creme de Noyeaux, much less a good one, but in my experience nut liqueurs have sufficiently similar flavor profiles as to allow substitution of one for another in pretty much any recipe. It won't be exactly the same, of course, but the results will still be in the same vein as intended. In other words, yeah, I doubt it's worth it for you to buy a liter of Creme de Noyeaux for 3 recipes unless you just really want to know what it's like.

-Andy


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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I thought Creme de Noyeaux was a true almond liqueur? Though of course most pits and such come out tasting more or less the same in alcohol.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Hmm... Well, if Creme de Noyeaux is supposed to be a true almond liqueur, that bodes well for the Luxardo Amaretto, which unlike Amaretto di Saronna, is actually made from almonds.

The recipes in jmfangio's books appear to be for homemade replica liqueurs, and they don't appear particularly accurate, I must say.

The drink recipes, on the other hand, are pretty cool looking.


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Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Here are a couple more recipes, from A Family Medicine Directory published in 1854, and (if you speak French), from Nouveau Manuel Complet du Distillateur Liquoriste, published in 1868.

I'm finding lots of interesting stuff on the Google book search - I'm going on the hunt for defunct bitters recipes. I'll move any further discoveries over to the Cocktail Books or appropriate spirits threads.


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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It's not clear to me that crème de noyaux is supposed to be almond liqueur. First, the French word for "almond" is amande not noyau, which means "pit" or "core" (interestingly, another meaning of amande is "kernel"). If you look at the history page for Noyau de Poissy, it says: "Quand et à qui vint l’idée d’utiliser l’amande si parfumée de l’abricot?" Taken together, it would seem that crème de noyaux is apricot kernel liqueur.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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In Duplais, Crème de Noyaux is as follows:

Apricot Seeds  -----  6 kg

Peach Seeds  -------- 2 kg

Bitter Almonds  ------ 2 kg

Alcohol 85 degrees -- 40 liters

Digest and distill (without rectifying) to obtain 40 liters of perfumed spirit.  Then add:

Orange Flower Water -- 2 liters

Best White Sugar ------  56 kg

Water -------------------  20 liters

Kind of a large batch...


---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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it is a ratafia... there are so many recipes. is the word ratafia ever used in the savoy? i like to use it these days... my pomegranite seed ratafia is the chronic... same sugar and alcohol content as cointreau. i've never seen it described in any books... i learned it from an old greek man...

ratafia de noyeau

peach or apricot kernals.

ratafia a la violette

from orris powder, 3oz. litmus 4oz.; rectified spirits 2 gallons.; digest for 10 days, straing and add white sugar 10 pounds dissolved in soft water.

....

ratafia d'angelique

angelica seeds and stocks, almonds,

ratafia de brou de noix

walnuts, with mace, cinnamon and cloves

ratafia de coings

quince juice, bitter almonds, cinnamon and coriander, mace, cloves, sugar

ratafia de grenoble de teyssere

cherries but flavored with noyeau use sugar or capillaire add syrup of the bay laurel and of galangal


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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Shrubs, Punches, and "Prepared Cocktails For Bottling" are as far as the "pantry" items go in the "Savoy Cocktail Book". No liqueur or ratafia recipes.


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Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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It's never been clear to me that there is a good definition of "ratafia."

Some sources seem to indicate that ratafia is a liqueur made by infusing alcohol with fruit kernels/pits and/or bitter almongs, and possibly also including fruit and/or herbs -- in which case it is defined by the kernel/pit/bitter almond infusion.

Other sources suggest that ratafia is a fruit based infused liqueur produced either at home or in small farms -- in which case it is defined by the place/way it is produced.

Both are apparently wine-based and quite low in alcohol, which would not give them much similarity with crèmes de noyaux such as Noyau de Poissy or the Duplais recipe.

On the other hand, the 1913 Webster's says it is "A spirituous liquor flavored with the kernels of cherries, apricots, peaches, or other fruit, spiced, and sweetened with sugar; -- a term applied to the liqueurs called noyau, curaçao, etc." So that is needless to say inconsistent as well.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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My understanding is that Ratafias are a subgroup among liqueurs.

The name is Franco-American in origin.

They are always produced by maceration of some substance in alcohol and never, (as far as I know,) distillation.

In my experience, they are often made from whole fruit (or nuts apparently) and frequently include spices or mixtures of fruits.

Duplais again:

THE name Liqueur is generally applied to certain alcoholic drinks prepared by distillation, infusion, or some other operation.  Liqueurs prepared by distillation have the advantage of yielding a product charged with all the aromatic principle of the perfuming material, and yet deprived of free volatile oil, which causes sharpness in liqueurs and disturbs their transparency.

Liqueurs prepared by infusion, or from the essences, never possess the delicacy of flavor and perfume which distinguish those that are distilled, with the exception, however, of the liqueurs prepared from red fruits by infusion, and designated as ratafia.

All liqueurs without exception consist of alcohol, sugar, water, and a perfume or aroma extracted from various substances, all in proportions which vary according to the quality of the article it is desired to produce.


Edited by eje (log)

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Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Getting a bit away from the Savoy; but...

My understanding is that Ratafias are a subgroup among liqueurs.

The name is Franco-American in origin.

arak tafia

to your health ladies and gentlemen... can't wait to make some with the alpenz product... i think some haitians still call it tafia... nothing like cinnamon spiced clairin when you need some courage...


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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Hi Everyone,

I wanted to try to get some information about something that is very traditional here in Poland (sorry about the long post).

We have a tradition here of making infusions or what the dictionary translates into English as "tinctures". The basic idea is pretty much standard - take something from nature and put it in vodka or usually the recipes specify "rectified spirit" - the really potent 90 ABV flavourless alcohol and sugar. They are usually left to mature for months and if possible even years and almost always dilluted with water at some point in the process.

Making these "nalewka" as they are called is a tradition in our country that goes back centuries and autumn is the time to make them. Some of them are considered to have medicinal properties (like the gralic ones).

My dad always makes one with black cherries or wild cheries and wallnuts using the unripe nuts in their green shells.

And this is pretty much my question - has anyone tried to make infusions/tinctures with things like:

Rowan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbus_aucuparia

Wild rose berries or fruits

Blackberries

Prunes

What is the difference between an infusion and a tincture ?

Is it just the amount of time that the flavouring part is left in the alcohol ?

Can anyone also tell me if there is a difference if I use vodka or rectified spirits from a chemical reaction side?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.


"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. " - Marie Curie Sklodowska

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[...]

What is the difference between an infusion and a tincture ?

Is it just the amount of time that the flavouring part is left in the alcohol ?

Can anyone also tell me if there is a difference if I use vodka or rectified spirits from a chemical reaction side?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Not sure about the difference between an infusion and a tincture. I guess I would say, tinctures are not usually sweetened and are usually single herbs, spices or flavors.

Time depends on the ingredient. Walnuts are often left in alcohol for 2 months or more. Some herbs and flowers might be left only overnight.

As far as I can tell, the biggest difference between rectified spirits and vodka, is simply the amount of dilution you need to perform in the final steps. I don't care for the flavor and burn of most rectified spirits available in the US, so prefer to use a half way decent vodka.

Funny about the cherry and walnut liqueur! I thought I was being really inventive this year by adding some black cherries to one of my batches of green walnut liqueur.

I just strained the solids out last week, and it does smell really good.

How does your Dad make his?


---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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[...]

What is the difference between an infusion and a tincture ?

Is it just the amount of time that the flavouring part is left in the alcohol ?

Can anyone also tell me if there is a difference if I use vodka or rectified spirits from a chemical reaction side?

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Not sure about the difference between an infusion and a tincture. I guess I would say, tinctures are not usually sweetened and are usually single herbs, spices or flavors.

Time depends on the ingredient. Walnuts are often left in alcohol for 2 months or more. Some herbs and flowers might be left only overnight.

As far as I can tell, the biggest difference between rectified spirits and vodka, is simply the amount of dilution you need to perform in the final steps. I don't care for the flavor and burn of most rectified spirits available in the US, so prefer to use a half way decent vodka.

Funny about the cherry and walnut liqueur! I thought I was being really inventive this year by adding some black cherries to one of my batches of green walnut liqueur.

I just strained the solids out last week, and it does smell really good.

How does your Dad make his?

high proof spirits can denature delicate fruits and some delicate herbs... medical disinfecting alcohol is cut to a degree so that it does not denature skin cells.


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

creator of acquired tastes

bostonapothecary.com

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I'm making some Limoncello, for sipping and for Limoncello Cakes. This is my first batch. It takes 80 days to make it :rolleyes: -- not an easy recipe for an impatient person like myself. I can't wait for a taste.


Edited by mamadeaux (log)

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What is the difference between an infusion and a tincture ?

There is no difference between an infusion and a tincture. Tincture simply means that the volatile parts of a substance have been taken into solution by a solvent (or solvents). In this case, the solvents are ethyl alcohol and water.

In the Christian Schultz Manual for the manufacture of cordials, liquors, fancy syrups, &c. &c. included together with certain editions of Jerry Thomas's How to Mix Drinks the author describes what he calls the "process of displacement" whereby the ingredients to be infused are ground into a coarse powder, moistened with alcohol into a paste, then left to infuse. After a period of time, the paste is placed into a funnel-filter and the infused spirit extracted by adding more alcohol to the top, which "displaces" the infused spirit. The extracted spirit might be reintroduced to the top of the filter until a non-turbid result is obtained. (in effect, this was a way of using the ground-up ingredients as a natural filter for fine particles). Schultz writes, "this extract is called tincture." I should point out, however, that this is only Schultz's definition. Tequila infused with chunks of pineapple is just as much a tincture as grain alcohol infused with ground cloves and extracted according to the above-described method.

Can anyone also tell me if there is a difference if I use vodka or rectified spirits from a chemical reaction side?

When you say "rectified spirits" I assume you mean high-proof (90% abv) neutral spirits. Vodka is, of course, a rectified spirit -- usually much more rectified than high proof neutral sprits in fact. Indeed, vodka starts out as a high proof, highly rectified, highly filtered neutral spirit which is then diluted down to between 40% and 50% abv.

For our purposes there are two salient differences between vodka and high proof neutral spirits: First, vodka is much more rectified and filtered than the high proof neutral spirits commonly available for purchase in the States (you may have access to better in Poland). As a result, there is a certain "harshness" to these spirits, even if diluted down to 40% abv. Second, certain substances have better solubility into water and certain substances have better solubility into alcohol. If we infuse into a 50% alcohol/50% water solution, we are infusing all the substances which are soluble into both water and alcohol. If we infuse into 90% alcohol, we are mostly infusing the alcohol-soluble substances.

high proof spirits can denature delicate fruits and some delicate herbs... medical disinfecting alcohol is cut to a degree so that it does not denature skin cells.

It's not clear to me how you are using the word "denature." Denaturation is the process by which a protein or amino acid's structure is altered by an outside stressor such as heat, acid, alkali, alcohol, salts, reducing agents, etc. I'm not sure how you think this works in the context of proof and spirit infusions. If a negative result is obtained as a result of infusing into high proof spirits, it's not clear to me that this is due to denaturation so much as it may be due to selective infusion of alcohol-soluble volatiles, over-extraction of certain substances due to the fast-acting nature of a high-proof solvent, or infusion of undesirable substances. In general, I think one will find that higher-proof infusions have better preservative properties compared to lower-proof infusions.

The reason disinfecting alcohol is diluted to 70% strength is not because 95% alcohol "denatures skin cells," but rather because 95% alcohol is less effective at killing bacteria in that context. This is because 70% alcohol is able to penetrate bacterial cell walls where it denatures the bacteria's proteins (DNA) and amino acids. 95% alcohol, on the other hand, quickly denatures the bacteria's cell walls thereby preventing the alcohol from passing into the cell. Both 95% and 70% alcohol are capable of denaturing skin cell proteins, and one would assume that the lower abv solution has a similarly greater denaturing power with respect to skin cells as it does with respect to bacterial cells.


Edited by slkinsey (log)

Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

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Wow thanks for the explanation slkinsey.

The rectified spirit- that's how it's labeled on the bottles here - I would say is very clean and neutral. If you dilute it with water it's very drinkable. I'm not an expert but I know that from experience in a way. My dad uses it every Christmas to make a traditional hot drink that we always have at Christmas dinner with honey, lemon, cloves and cinnamon. Of course it's diluted down with water as well - but always served very hot. Very good for cold winters in Poland ;)

Eje here are two recipes from my dads family liqueur book that was kind of passed down to him from my grandfather. He has quite a few but here are two he gave me today.

He always makes them in 5 litre bottles/jars. Its a bottle that's really wide at the bottom and gets narrow at the top with thatched cane around 2/3 of the bottle.

Wild or blackcherries

2kg blackcheries

400g natural honey

3/4 l of rectified spirit (90 ABV I think)

1 1/2 l of vodka

Put them together for 6 weeks and then bottle and leave for as long as desired. Obviously the longer the better.

Funnily enough he doesn't filter it when he puts it in bottles but rather "takes it" off the top from the big container using a rubber tube. A bit like siphoning it. I hope my English is understandable :)

The second one is the Walnut one made with green walnuts. He stressed that you have to make sure that the shell hasn't started to form yet. He makes this one around early july here.

So here goes:

24 green walnuts cut into quarters

15 prunes

i stick of cinnamon

1 stick of vanilla

1/2 kg of brown sugar

One star anise

Some unground pepper corns

2 l of vodka

1/2 l of rectified spirits

Put it in the same kind of 5 l container.

After 2 weeks he ads half a lemon that was soaked in vodka for 1 day.

This is then left until the end of September until it's bottled.

Have you tried to make one with Rowan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbus_aucuparia ? It's very popular here.


Edited by Tomek (log)

"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less. " - Marie Curie Sklodowska

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Tomek...

Those both sound pretty tasty! Just a couple clarifications...

By prunes do you mean fresh prune plums or dried prunes?

I'm also guessing you don't pit your cherries or prunes?


---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Tomek...

Those both sound pretty tasty!  Just a couple clarifications...

By prunes do you mean fresh prune plums or dried prunes?

I'm also guessing you don't pit your cherries or prunes?

i've had great results using dehydrated fruits. you can get great flavor out of things quickly which makes some homemade liqueurs really practical for modern bar applications. fresh prune plums are in season so i think i will play with some this week. they might be sexy over some gin with alpenz's creme de violette in a "garden of eden"-esque concept.

i really need to whip up some jerry thomas quince liqueur as well.

has anyone ever made the "rum shrub"? or could anyone estimate its perishability given the recipe? i have been curious about it for quite a while. would we not need to boil the the milk in our modern day because modern milk is already pasteurized? and boiling cooling and straining might remove milk solids so skim milk would be best modern choice? if enough people care to speculate i will try my hand at mixing it up...

Rum Shrub.

(To make nearly four gallons.)

Take 3 gallons of best Jamaica rum.

1 quart of orange juice,

1 pint of lemon juice.

6 pounds of powdered sugar dissolved in sufficient water.

3 pints of fresh milk.

Mix together all but the milk, and let them remain closely covered over night. Next day boil the milk ; and when cold, add it to the mixture. Filter through a flannel bag lined with blotting paper, and bottle, corking immediately.


abstract expressionist beverage compounder

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bostonapothecary.com

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Hi Everyone,

I wanted to try to get some information about something that is very traditional here in Poland (sorry about the long post).

...

And this is pretty much my question - has anyone tried to make infusions/tinctures with things like:

Rowan - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sorbus_aucuparia

Wild rose berries or fruits

Blackberries

Prunes

...

Any help will be greatly appreciated.

Okay, here's my first post on eGullet! I've been making liqueurs for the last three years. I started when my wife came home with two crates of strawberries and wondered what to do with them. I now have made over 40 different liqueurs. As far as Tomek's question - I've made a liqueur from the berries of our mountain ash tree which is related to the European Rowan. These berries can't be eaten fresh, but can be made into jam and liqueurs. I tried two batches, one of a neighbor's tree which was a different species (the typical orange berry) and from my tree (littler pink berries). The liqueur from my tree turned out well - a gingery, berry kind of taste. The liqueur from my neighbor's tree did not turn out - a few berries that turned bad ruined the whole batch (with a moldy smell and taste, blechh).

I've also made delicious blackberry and prune liqueurs (in fact I've got two new batches aging right now).

I've learned mostly from a few sources - the book Cordials from Your Kitchen and these web sites: LiqueurWeb, Gunther Anderson's Liqueur-Making, and Danish Schnapps.

The main things I've tried are fruit, spice and herb liqueurs. Here are some guidelines I've adopted for the most success:

1. Try to add sugar syrup or honey (if desired) after the aging process. At the beginning it is very, very, very difficult to gauge how sweet the liqueur is going to end up being. At the end of aging, a simple taste test of putting two teaspoons of liqueur and a teaspoon of sugar syrup in a tasting glass and adding either liqueur or syrup until the right level occurs works well. Then you can use that proportion in making the final liqueur. I don't think the sugar really helps during the initial aging and might retard it from what I've read.

2. The "bigger" and "wetter" the item being made into a liqueur, the longer the aging. A cinnamon or other spice liqueur may take a couple of days to a week of aging, while some berries could profitably take months to get a good strong infusion.

3. Use medium priced spirits. I've had some batches made with cheaper brands of vodka where I could taste the "metal" harshness through the liqueur. But putting Grey Goose in isn't really going to raise the level of the liqueur. Some say that cheaper brands can be filtered, but I haven't tried it.

All those points (and more) are made in the above mentioned book and websites. The fun I'm having now is combining my liqueurs into fascinating cocktails, the one I had last weekend: 1 part Grapefruit liqueur, 1 parts Limoncello and 1/2 part Fennel liqueur - WOW!

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I just opened a bottle of my Liquore alla Erbe Luigia--- a sort of ligurian limoncello made not with lemon peel, but lemon verbena leaves- - -great stuff!!

Lemony and bright, but with a rich green background that makes it much more sippable and complex than your average limoncello. A great new thing to try!


Torren O'Haire - Private Chef, FMSC Tablemaster, Culinary Scholar

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Rum Shrub.

Googling for "bon vivant companion rum shrub" yields at least 3 different recipes... A Google Book Search shows what appears to be Bon Vivant's Companion - Rum Shrub Recipea digitized version of Jerry Thomas's book, and a different recipe without milk.

Since I would immediately think that the lemon juice would curdle the milk in the recipe you posted, I wonder if this is a better bet?

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How do other people keep light petals under the surface of the alcohol when making floral liqueurs? I'm thinking of using a tea-bag sachet (easy to buy in shops here) and weighting it with a well-boiled rock, but am afraid that the sachet may taint the liqueur, or not be as resistant to alcohol as it is to hot water.

Last autumn, I made some chrysanthemum liqueur (this is one of those East Asian things - tastes very medicinal, and touted as a headache cure!).

The petals floated very persistently, still haven't sunk 3 months or more later. WIth other herbal liqueurs made from sturdier greenery, I use rock sugar, which weighs the greenery down - by the time the sugar has dissolved, the leaves etc. are no longer inclined to float. However chrysanthemum petals do have a "waxy" tendency to resist water, and the floating layer of petals turned brown on top, though those underneath retained a bright color and leached surprisingly little color.

I usually add a couple of handfuls of Japanese ume (p. mume) blossoms to last year's ume-shu (plum "wine"), and I'm considering making a blossom-only liqueur this year.

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How do other people keep light petals under the surface of the alcohol when making floral liqueurs? I'm thinking of using a tea-bag sachet (easy to buy in shops here) and weighting it with a well-boiled rock, but am afraid that the sachet may taint the liqueur, or not be as resistant to alcohol as it is to hot water.

Could you use a glass teapot strainer (should be VERY easy to find in Japan), perhaps inserting a smaller glass into the strainer if you need to weigh the ingredients down?


"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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