Homemade Liqueurs for Holiday Gifting (Get Them Started Now!)

By: 
A.J. Rathbun

True, it seems like the holiday season begins earlier and earlier each year. But that just means it’s time to start crafting your homemade liqueurs to give as gifts (starting early ensures flavor awesomeness as these sippers need some time to sit). What better present for a cocktail lover than a made-by-you liqueur: It tastes great, it shows you’ve actually taken the time to craft something delicious and if you’re lucky, the person you gifted will then break out two glasses and share. All the below recipes are from Luscious Liqueurs: 50 Recipes for Sublime and Spirited Infusions to Sip and Savor.

Sweet Macadamiana
This island-style infusion of macadamia nuts and vodka results in a liqueur that could be sipped happily solo over ice, with a taste that won’t disappoint candy lovers, but which has enough layering and nutty flavoring to avoid being cloying. Makes about 2-1/2 pints

One 6-ounce jar roasted unsalted macadamia nuts (about 1-1/2 cups)
2 cups vodka
3/4 cup honey
2 cups dark brown sugar
1-1/2 cups water

 

1. Coarsely chop the macadamia nuts. Put the nuts and vodka in a large glass container with a secure lid. Seal and place the container in a cool, dry, place, away from the sun. Let sit for two weeks, twirling once every day or two.

2. Combine honey, sugar, and water in a medium-sized saucepan over a medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture almost to a boil. Lower the heat a bit, keeping the mixture at a low simmer for five minutes. Remove from heat and let the syrup completely cool in the pan.

3. Add the syrup to the glass container, stir well, and reseal. Return to its spot. Let it sit for two more weeks, twirling at least every other day.

4. Carefully strain the mix through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other easy-pouring vessel. Strain again through 2 new layers of cheesecloth, into bottles or jars or one large jar. Let sit one more week before partaking.


Scotch Treat

Scotch isn’t usually utilized in the making of homemade liqueur, but this dreamy number is spicy and will remind the drinker of the Scottish highlands (or at least it does me). It’s strong, but not overwhelming in any way. Makes 1-3/4 pints

1/2 teaspoon whole fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon whole caraway seeds
2 teaspoons fresh sage leaves
1 pint Scotch whiskey (use a reliable blended Scotch like J & B)
1-1/2 cup Simple Syrup

 

1. Using a mortar and pestle mash the fennel, caraway, and sage together. Pour this mixture into a large glass container with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Add the Scotch and stir well. Seal and place in a cool, dry spot, away from the sun. Let sit for three weeks, swirling occasionally.

3. Add the simple syrup, stir again, and reseal. Return it to its spot. Let set for three more weeks, swirling occasionally.

4. Carefully strain the liqueur through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher, jar, or other easy-pouring vessel. Strain again through 2 new layers of cheesecloth into bottles or jars that have good lids (or one large one). Store for one more week before serving.

 

Strawberry Gold
I know it can sometimes be hard to find good strawberries this time of year. But if you can track them down, this liqueur is the ideal way to use them. It’s lovely and perfect for any fruit aficionado. Make about 2 pints

3-1/2 cups fresh strawberries
3 cups vodka
1-3/4 cup Simple Syrup
1-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

1. Gently wash the strawberries and dry them on towels. When dry, remove the stems from the strawberries (I cut off the top of the strawberries, stems and all, due to the flesh around the stems being often not as sweet as the rest of the strawberry), and any blemished spots. Coarsely chop the strawberries and then add them (you should have 3-1/2 cups here) to a large glass container with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Add the vodka to the container and stir well. Seal and place in a cool, dry spot, away from the sun. Let it sit, whirling the strawberries around the jar every 3-1/2 days.

3. Add the simple syrup and the vanilla, stir and reseal. Return it to its spot. Let it sit for two more weeks, whirling the contents every other day.

4. Filter the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Strain through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher, jar, or other easy-pouring vessel. Strain again through 2 new layers of cheesecloth into bottles or jars that have good lids (or one large one).

 

Blood Orange’s Revenge
This is a good time of year to make a blood orange liqueur--blood oranges being perhaps the finest winter citrus fruit you can find. The addition of cloves also adds to this liqueur’s winter nature. Makes about 1-3/4 pints

4 blood oranges
1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon whole cloves
2 cups vodka
1-1/2 cups Simple Syrup

 

1. Wash, dry, and peel the oranges and lemon, trimming away any white pith. Place the peels in a large glass container with a tight-fitting lid.

2. Using a sharp knife, remove the layer of pith from two of the blood oranges. (Juice the final two oranges and the lemon for drinks or cooking). Cut the trimmed oranges into pieces, and add the pieces to the container. Stir slightly with a wooden spoon to smash up the oranges.

3. Add the cloves and the vodka. Stir a little more and seal. Place in a cool, dry spot, away from the sun. Let it sit for two weeks, swirling occasionally.

4. Add the simple syrup, stir well, and reseal. Let sit for two more weeks, swirling occasionally.

5. Filter the liqueur through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Strain through double sheets of cheesecloth into a pitcher, jar, or other easy-pouring vessel. Finally, strain again through 2 new layers of cheesecloth into bottles or jars that have good lids (or one large one).

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