I’m so excited about this month’s Savvy Cookbook. Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss is just the right combination for my love of preserving and my recent interest in unique cocktails. The book is filled with recipes for all types of liqueurs ranging from the well-known (copycat frangelico and chambord, for instance) to the unique (the smoky bacon bourbon comes to mind).
Homemade Liqueurs immediately won me over when I saw that it opens with a few brief chapters on food science, including how infusing works, the role that sugar plays in the process, and how the alcohol proof, flavoring concentration and ingredient volatility interact with each other.
The book then moves into over 150 infusion and liqueur recipes, sorted by type: fruit, vegetable, herb and spice, nut and seed, floral, coffee/tea/chocolate, creamy, caramel/syrup/butterscotch and infused spirits. Plus, each recipe ends with at least one suggested use for the liqueur, whether that be “sip as an aperitif accompanied by a salty hors d’oeuvre” (Orange Rosemary, page 113) or “muddle a sprig of thyme in a highball glass, fill with ice, add 2 ounces Apricardamom, and top with ginger ale” (Apricardamom, page 37). My list of recipes to try is way too long, but the highlights include:
Dark and stormy pineapple Pumpkin pie Chocolate hazelnut Cherry basil Coconut-palm rum Nuit noir (licorice + black pepper + vanilla) Green tea honey
So far, I’ve made three of the liqueurs. Obviously, the Chai-namon was my first choice, because I can’t pass up chai anything. I used the creamy simple syrup instead of the brown that the recipe called for, and made a few other tweaks, and now I have a sweet, milky, chai-flavored version of Irish cream. I’m pretty sure it’s a new favorite (see recipe below)! Since I was making a liqueur with my most-loved flavor, it only seemed fair to make one with Dan’s favorite, so I have the Orange Dreamsicle infusing away in the pantry right now.
Unfortunately, the sweet almond/amaretto-knockoff didn’t quite turn out. I suspect that I didn’t chop the almonds finely enough, though, so I’m not quite ready to write the recipe off!
The cookbook wraps up with “cocktail hour,” 80 recipes that use homemade liqueurs in place of the spirit + sugar typically used in cocktails. They are sorted by categories from A (Alexander = liqueur + cream) to T (Tonic = liqueur + soda + optional bitters). I can’t wait to try a rut beer float, made with seltzer, ice cream and rut, a root vegetable infusion!
Overall, I give Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss…
5 out of 5 stars.
Now, on to the Creamy Chai Liqueur!
This chai-spiced version of an Irish cream is great on the rocks, stirred into coffee or cocoa or shaken into cocktails.
Adapted from Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits by Andrew Schloss.
- 1 1/2 cups vodka (80-100 proof)
- 1 1/2 cups brandy (80 proof)
- 4 vanilla chai tea bags
- 2 whole cinnamon sticks
- 1 - 1 1/2 cups creamy simple syrup (see below)
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- Combine the vodka, brandy, tea bags and cinnamon sticks in a large glass jar. Cover and shake lightly so that the tea bags and cinnamon sticks are moistened. Store the jar in a cool, dark place for 3-5 days, until it smells of chai.
- Make the simple syrup (see below) at least an hour or so in advance of straining the liqueur, so it has time to cool.
- Remove the tea bags and the cinnamon sticks. Do not squeeze the tea bags, or you'll release the bitter tannins into the liqueur.
- Stir in the simple syrup, starting with just a cup. Taste, and add more syrup as desired.
- Mix the heavy cream and the sugar together in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, stir in the sweetened condensed milk, and allow the syrup to cool completely before stirring it into the liqueur. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 or 3 weeks.
Make Ahead and Storage
Refrigerate for up to one month.
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