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bigbear

Homemade Liqueurs

180 posts in this topic

I'm not totally sure what the teapot strainer is - did you mean the nylon/plastic inserts for teapots? The idea of putting a glass in to weigh things down sounds like an excellent idea, too. Thanks!

(Petals often seem to "repel" water and float - I wonder if anybody has had difficulty in using violets for infusions?)

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I made Rosolio the other day - milk, sugar, lemon juice/flesh and zest, vanilla bean, grain spirits.

The milk should curdle, apparently - but so far it hasn't. It's so cold in my kitchen that I am sure it will be perfectly preserved until some archaeologist digs us all out of the permafrost in years to come, but shouldn't the milk curdle pretty much immediately? Maybe the juice is locked up in the sugar, and will curdle the milk in good time?

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Further comments on Rosolio;

Strained twice, through a cloth and then through a coffee filter, which produced a clear (few tiny floaters) liquid with a pleasant lemony color from the whey, I imagine.

I've set it aside to mature for a while. At present, even diluted, the first impression is "sweet" and "vanilla". If I made it again, I might add more lemon. The whey is not obtrusive, simply creates a rich and smooth feeling - and maybe this makes the sweetness more obtrusive than it would be otherwise.

The strained milk solids, boozy and lemony as they are, are the best part so far! :biggrin:

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St John's wort flower buds infused in alcohol ( enough to cover the buds ) make for a nice schnaps when the infusion is diluted further to taste. Nice red colour that might grow somewhat brown with time.

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Further comments on Rosolio;

Strained twice, through a cloth and then through a coffee filter, which produced a clear (few tiny floaters) liquid with a pleasant lemony color from the whey, I imagine.

I've set it aside to mature for a while. At present, even diluted, the first impression is "sweet" and "vanilla". If I made it again, I might add more lemon. The whey is not obtrusive, simply creates a rich and smooth feeling - and maybe this makes the sweetness more obtrusive than it would be otherwise.

The strained milk solids, boozy and lemony as they are, are the best part so far! :biggrin:

Wow, sounds really interesting! Have a recipe to share? What do you suppose the keeping qualities will be?


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

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

-J. Child

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It was some post from 2003 in this thread that set me off...I think I used this recipe I found on the Internet - a couple of places list it in much the same form.

That recipe has equal quantities of grain alcohol, sugar, and milk (2.25 cups each) plus zest and de-pithed fruit of one lemon, and half a vanilla bean.

Half a vanilla bean is not too little - it's really dominant. It might even be worth removing it after about 3 days (if you can find it!).

I also think it might be worth making with less sugar - if it was a ladies' drink, maybe it was always meant to be diluted, but even so, it's pretty sweet.

It could also do with a boost in the aroma department. Wondering what the history of the drink is - does it predate the vanilla boom of the late 19th century, and if so, what aromatics did peoplel use before they started using vanilla? Still thinking about that one...maybe something discreet like lemon balm or lemon verbena? Time for the micro-batch experimental mode!

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The secret to making good Kahlua at home is to make a much thicker sugar syrup than most internet recipes call for, say 235 F and three cups sugar and one cup water brought to that temperature. Allowed to cool but not harden. Then, instead of using instant coffee, you make an intense coffee liquor with a Vietnamese drip filter, filled to near the top and slowly topped with hot hot water, and more water until you get a thick espresso like elixir, say, half a cup or less. Add coffee to the syrup to taste. Then, top with vodka to taste. I prefer home-made Kahlua because I can use decaffeinated coffee (Community Coffee or Lavazza, the two best decafs I have come across), so that it is drinkable at night.


Edited by Jay Francis (log)

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So I'm fairly obsessed with the idea of making creme de cacao, but every recipe I've come across uses "liquid chocolate" or some other such dubious ingredient. Does anyone have a recipe with a bit more, uh, integrity? Would love to start from cacao nibs (raw or roasted- or a combo?). Also, wondering if there is a way to incorporate some of the fat from the bean in an emulsification.

Thank you!


Small Hand Foods

classic ingredients for pre-prohibition era cocktails

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I got obsessed with making Cocoa bitters with Mexican spices for a while.

Started from cocoa beans I got in a Mexican grocery and roasted them.

Mole Bitters/Liqueur

When researching roasting my own beans, I found this site quite helpful:

All about Cocoa Beans and blue jeans.

At least, for bitters or infusion, you don't have to sift and winnow the shells.

This recipe may be what you are looking for:

Homemade Creme de Cacao (Jagendorf) Recipe

I haven't tried making it, but sort of incorporated into my Cocoa bitters process.


---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Hello. I am looking for a tried and great chocolate liqueur recipe. I can't seem to find one that usesreal and good quality chocolate. Can anybody help here?

Thanks!


Edited by Lior (log)

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I thought this article from this week's Chronicle gardening section interesting.

Tinctures and oils: Garden-variety medicines

To show the class the result, she pulled out a mason jar filled with a lovely orange liquid: a tincture of dandelion root, orange peel and fennel seeds prepared a month before...Setting a funnel in another bottle, she laid a muslin cloth over the top and poured the contents through it. When enough had been strained, she passed around the full glass. Its flavor and warm amber color drew admiring sighs: the perfect digestive drink.

I'd actually love to experiment more with flower infusions, other than the obvious ones like Elderflower, Rose, and Violet.


---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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has anyone made a rhubarb liqueur? i've been using a rhubarb syrup in cocktails (thanks, KatieLoeb!), and am looking for a way to bottle the flavor beyond the spring. i found a recipe in a book that calls for 4 cups rhubarb (thinly sliced), 3 cups vodka, and 3 cups sugar, all aged together for 2-4 weeks, strained, and aged another month. that seems really sweet... it also seems like most other techniques call for steeping the vodka and flavoring, and then sweetening later to taste with a sugar syrup. hm. any experience/feedback/recipes appreciated.

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has anyone made a rhubarb liqueur?  i've been using a rhubarb syrup in cocktails (thanks, KatieLoeb!), and am looking for a way to bottle the flavor beyond the spring.  i found a recipe in a book that calls for 4 cups rhubarb (thinly sliced), 3 cups vodka, and 3 cups sugar, all aged together for 2-4 weeks, strained, and aged another month.  that seems really sweet... it also seems like most other techniques call for steeping the vodka and flavoring, and then sweetening later to taste with a sugar syrup.  hm.  any experience/feedback/recipes appreciated.

Most books err on the side of sweetness. The benefit of adding the sugar at the beginning is that you don't have to make a simple syrup - it will dissolve during the steeping time. But, you are left without a way to modify the sweetness if it is too sweet at the end. I recommending adding 1/4 to 1/2 the called for amount of sugar at the start and taste at the end to add simple syrup if you need too.

From my experience, a too sweet liqueur overwhelms the characteristics of whatever the base of your liqueur consists of. My rhubarb liqueur ended up a little too sweet and I wish I had cut back the sugar to get the "bite" back. I used a recipe similar to what you described. It's still good though!

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I started making floral liqueurs in the 1980s when I first read the Toklas book. My biggest mistake once involved using flowers from the florist. Since they keep the flowers in water that has been treated with a chemical preservative, well, I wound up with crystals of preservative in the bottom of my bottle.

Now, I only use flowers I know were raised organically and not treated, usually from someone's garden. (of course, I live in Phoenix, so we don't have many beloved flowers like violets, I make special trips for those)

I have used vodka in the past, but I currently prefer Everclear. I make two basic types of liqueur: one juice-based, one infused.

For juice-based, like quince, I run the fruit through my juicer and add a dash of vitamin C crystals to preserve color. I then mix with simple syrup to taste, then add an amount equaling the fruit/syrup mixture of Everclear.

For infused liqueurs, like yuzu where I use peel not juice, I steep the item (peels, petals, pods, etc.) in Everclear for 3-30 days, checking every other day to see how things are going. As someone stated above, the ingredients can vary wildly in the amount of time needed to get all the goodness out. Once the Everclear is well infused, I remove the infusing item, strain if needed, and add simple syrup to taste. I generally use equal parts simple syrup and infusion, your tastes may vary.

I have never tried chocolate. I will try soon and post some results.

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I started an experimental batch of chocolate liqueur today. I will post updates as they happen.

The chocolate used was Chocovic's unique origin Ocumare Criollo 71% bar. I live near a Trader Joe's, and it's the best of what I could get my hands on fast. If I'd had any Callebaut I would have used it. I saved the unused portion of the bar for comparison tasting with the liqueur later on.

The cane sugar that has been appearing at my local hispanic foods market looks light in the package, but cooks up fairly dark in appearance. It has a rich flavor without the molasses overtones of a brown sugar. I've been using it because it seems closer to the sugar available in the 1800s, I just mixed and drank my way through Imbibe!, and I like the taste. Of course, substituting regular white sugar would be fine.

The chargond comes looking like pebbles, it needs to be ground to dissolve quickly.

Here's the procedure I used (at home, extra tips for home users):

Ingredients

now

20 grams bitter chocolate

1 pint Everclear

later

1 lb raw cane sugar/sugar

1 cup water

1 tablespoon gum arabic (I buy it marked "edible gum chargond" at the local Asian market)

Tools

ceramic bowl

coarse microplane 35000 series with 35057 attachment to protect fingers

non-metal spatula

non-reactive, airtight container (I used a pint canning jar)

Final container, non-reactive, quart sized

I refrigerated the chocolate overnight. An hour before starting I checked the thermostat to make sure it was at 72 degrees, and put my bowl out to make certain it was cool.

I grated the chocolate into the bowl then used the spatula to move the resulting powder into the pint canning jar. I topped it off with Everclear, then used the spatula to stir a few times to ensure that there were no air pockets under the chocolate. I closed the jar tightly and placed in a cool spot away from light.

I'll check the flavor/aroma every couple of days. This could take up to 30 days to work.

Once the alcohol is infused, I'll make what my husband has dubbed 'complex syrup.' Grind the chargond finely (or use powdered gum arabic) and add to the sugar and water in a small high-sided saucepan. Allow to come to a boil, skim the impurities and cool. It may be useful to double the recipe and have some to use for mixing unrelated cocktails later. I keep a bottle of this syrup around for general home bartending.

I usually mix equal parts infusion and 'complex syrup', but this can be adjusted to taste. The infusion portion alone (of my other liqueur experiments) has proven to be very useful in making all sorts of patisserie items.

Anyway, more later!

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This is the third fall in which i'll be making my set of liqueurs, and with each year of practice they get better!

A few points of inquiry though...

I made a limoncello last time that was tasty, but rather than the fresh, bright, green-gold color it should have been, it turned an almost coppery-gold, and, while still enjoyable, it acquired a heavy, almost cooked-flavor. Not the best, but not a failure. In practice for the future, anyone have tips on what may have happened? Could I have left the macerant in the alcohol for too long before filtering?

Also,

I made a quince liqueur that turned out 'okay,' but uninteresting. Quince-y enough, but with a strong vodka taste and no complexity. Has anyone had experience in modifying liqueurs post-aging? I'd rather not dump it out, i'd prefer to take the mediocre quince schnapps and re-macerate it with other, more interesting notes, and come out with an eventual success. Thoughts?


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

"life is a combination of magic and pasta"

-F. Fellini

"We should never lose sight of a beautifully conceived meal."

-J. Child

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I agree with your speculation. I have seen citrus peels change color like that after a long time soaking in alcohol.

I add vitamin C crystals to some of my concoctions to preserve color. It's usually about a ½ teaspoon to each pint of fruity mass. I have never made limoncello, though, so I have no idea if it would help.

As for flavor, I have made liqueurs that were blends of two things like blueberry/lime. Maybe using your quince as a stepping stone for a blend would work out. I'd suggest adding maybe a spice to the mix, or something to boost tartness.

The chocolate infusion is current working its magic in my fridge. (I live in Phoenix, it's summer, house is too warm to keep chocolate from melting.) The only weird thing right now is the candy bar I chose had lecithin in it, and that lecithin has formed cottony clouds in the alcohol. The grated chocolate looks like large-grained sand in the bottom of the jar, and it stays down in the bottom centimeter or so unless I shake it up. (I shake it twice a day.) The lecithin has added murky clouds that have taken over half the height of the jar. Needless to say, I plan on straining this carefully when the time comes.

An initial taste of the infusion has given high hopes for the end result. Even after one day infusing it had a very distinct chocolaty flavor. -Not much of an aroma beyond alcohol, though, so I am giving it more time.

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I bottled the chocolate liqueur last night. I used plain syrup, 2 parts white sugar to one part water, to finish it, in an equal amount to the chocolate infusion. At the last minute, I decided to go for a pure and simple approach.

The infusion had to be strained twice, once with cheesecloth in a chinois, the second time with a coffee filter. This was due to the lecithin clouds. My advice for anyone starting such a project is to find a chocolate without lecithin in it, your life will be much simpler.

If strained and left alone, the infusion would be a powerful chocolate extract. Although, remember that since the chocolate had a touch of sugar, there is also a hint of sweetness to it. The amount of sugar in the chocolate, and personal taste, will affect how much syrup to add at the end.

Anyway, my husband who does not drink, and does not like alcohol tasted the finished product and really liked it. I think I captured pretty much the whole picture when it comes to the particular chocolate.

Note on the use of Everclear: I used to make my own infusions of herbs and flowers in order to make my own perfume. The books I had instructed me to use vodka. But, I found that certain herbals did not release their essential oils or blend in the vodka. I stumbled onto trying Everclear, and I have not looked back. The low water content really helps pull flavor out of all sorts of things.

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I'm wondering if using cocoa powder would make the chocolate liqueur easier to filter. In theory I would think you'd get the chocolaty flavor without the cloudiness.

Might have to do some experimentation.

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I had that same idea while looking at the weird clouds of lecithin. My guess is that it would taste good, as long as you use a cocoa you enjoy. (My husband hates one national brand.) The fact that it's already a powder means the flavor will easily transfer to the liquid.

-Just went out and got more cocoa, and started a batch. Updates in a few days.


Edited by Lisa Shock (log)

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Well, I noticed this morning that the cocoa infusion has the same sort of feathery clouds in it as the chocolate-bar infusion had.

I am using SACO cocoa. The ingredients are listed as: Blend of natural cocoa and Dutched cocoa (processed with alkali).

The flavor is starting to transfer to the alcohol, and so far seems decent.

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The liqueur made with chocolate is far superior to the on made with cocoa. I just mixed the cocoa infusion with syrup, after letting it infuse a few more days than the chocolate.

The cocoa infused liqueur has quick one-tone flavor of chocolate followed by a blast of alcohol then sweetness. It was chocolate flavored, and that was about it.

The chocolate liqueur has a fuller, longer more complex set of chocolate flavors that carry though the alcohol and sweet sensations in the mouth. It was a full rich experience, very close to that of eating actual chocolate.

I strongly recommend working with chocolate for this project, the cocoa product was a very pale imitation.

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The liqueur made with chocolate is far superior to the on made with cocoa. I just mixed the cocoa infusion with syrup, after letting it infuse a few more days than the chocolate.

The cocoa infused liqueur has quick one-tone flavor of chocolate followed by a blast of alcohol then sweetness. It was chocolate flavored, and that was about it.

The chocolate liqueur has a fuller, longer more complex set of chocolate flavors that carry though the alcohol and sweet sensations in the mouth.  It was a full rich experience, very close to that of eating actual chocolate.

I strongly recommend working with chocolate for this project, the cocoa product was a very pale imitation.

How would it work if in making a liqueur like this you infused the booze with non-chocolate flavors, say orange peel, cinnamon, vanilla (or whatever), and then sweetened it with a high quality homemade chocolate syrup?


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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One of the recipes that has interested me for some time is the Mr. Bali Hai from Jeff Berry's Intoxica!, due in no small part to the peculiar looking ingredient list: Pineapple juice, Sour mix (lemon and simple, please), white rum, Myers's, and Coffee Brandy. The coffee brandy stuck out to me, and made it interesting, but I figured that a coffee liqueur wouldn't work, since there are other recipes in the book calling for that, and though I've never tasted it I'd imagine a coffee brandy is subtler and less sweet. However, I could never bring myself to purchase even a 375 ml bottle of the stuff just for one drink, esp since the brands available do not, in general, inspire confidence.

Anyways, I recently noted the Mr. Bali Hai recipe again while browsing the book, and got to thinking about substitutions and homebrew. Monday I finally got down to it, brewed 4 oz of Guatemalan Ruta Maya espresso, mixed in 1/2 a cup of sugar and let it cool, then mixed with 6 oz of Paul Masson VSOP brandy. Bam, coffee brandy liqueur, with the highly desireable sweetening power of 1 tsp of sugar to each 1/2 oz of liqueur. Even better than that was the one made in exact same method, though with strong brewed tea (plain ol Luzianne bags) in place of the espresso. Now that is some delicious stuff, just on some ice or whatever even. I'm thinking it's going to do some serious damage when mixed with Scotch.

While I had all the stuff out, I also made cinammon syrup, which also made a fine liqueur when mixed with a nice gold rum (Flor de Cana was my choice). Not sure what I'll be doing with all these, I haven't even tried the Mr. Bali Hai yet, but even with only two days of mellowing in the bottle, they are already pretty danged tasty, and were stupid easy to make.

I will add that the coffee brandy isn't really a sub for regular coffee liqueur, which I already attempted. The flavor is somewhat different, and it's not nearly so sweet. That's not to say you couldn't adapt your recipes, of course.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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