One would think I’m a dedicated drinker with all the brewing of alcohol I seem to get involved in. I’m truly not, but things have a way of happening whether you plan them or not. Mainly. I have to admit that the repeated creation (batch three is working away in the cupboard, should be ready by Christmas) of vanilla cordial may have more to do with drinking than anything else, but the other two are less about the drinking and more about the making.
The first thing I ever made were the aforementioned vanilla cordial. It involves rum as a base instead of a vodka base. Use a middle of the road rum if you’re going to try this. Cheap tastes exactly as you would expect and expensive is wasted by the time all is said and done. To this you add five split vanilla beans. Let the bottle hang around in a cool dark cupboard for as long as you can bear it, two months at least. Shake it every now and again. Doesn’t have to be every day, and really I suspect that if you leave it long enough it won’t need shaking at all, I just do it because every time you shake it more seeds come loose from the pods. The more seeds, the better the flavour.
So, you’ve let is soak for a couple on months. At this point the rum is no longer white but a lovely amber, with lots of little seeds floating about. Pour the rum through a sieve into another container. Put the beans into a sauce pan with one cup of water and a cup and a half of sugar. Bring to a boil. Cool. Mix the rum with the sugar syrup. Don’t include the beans, but let the seeds that are in the rum – and any the syrup may have – stay. Add 1 tablespoon of glycerin. Re-bottle, some in the rum bottle and the extra wherever. You can let this sit for a few weeks but if you can’t resist trying it then give in and give it a slurp. I use it in a lot of recipes and I must confess that I do indulge in the occasional rum and root beer. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!
My second attempt at home made liqueur was somewhat less successful. Having an herb garden at the front of the house that is backed by something we call Mint Mountain, I decided to make my own crème de menthe. There really is a limit to how much mint jelly one family of three can consume. I don't know that many lamb eaters, so there is also a limit as to how much I can give away. I do make herbal tea with it, and dry it, but seriously a mountain of mint makes a mountain of tea. Hence the liqueur!
It did work out but I don’t often use it because I wasn’t paying attention when I added green food colouring. We have several boxes and jars of food colouring and in my haste I picked up the box that The Girl bought one year. The box of neon food colouring. So my crème de menthe is electric green. Very toxic looking and consequently unappealing. I still have it, partly because I can’t bring myself to toss something usable away, and partly because you never know when some recipe – preferably chocolate, to hid the green – might call for a healthy dose of mint liqueur.
This brings us to the third and final liqueur making attempt. I’m trying out the Milk Liqueur from The New Portuguese Table. Why? Is it because I want to have milk liqueur around to drink or cook with? No. Might it be because someone asked me to make it? No, not that either. It’s because, according to the recipe, when you’re done it’s completely clear. How can that be? It it made with milk! So I’m trying it. Right now – I started it yesterday – it looks truly disgusting. I’ve got vodka, milk, chocolate, sugar and chopped lemon stewing in a gallon jar in a dark cupboard. It’s all curdled looking and very evil scientist lab-like. I’ll keep y’all updated on how it’s going.