Monday, January 18, 2010

infusions and bitters

Spent some time this evening cataloging my liquor cabinet. I've got:
  • Over 70 bottles of liquor, most of which are liqueurs for mixing
  • 11 bottles of bitters (not including my own custom mixes)
  • A few homemade liqueurs (apple pie mostly, and some limoncello)
Some favorites:
  • Vodka: so neutral, and makes a bunch of my favorite drinks. Great for infusion too, if you don't have easy access to grain alcohol. For "daily use" I like Skyy, and for "splurge" I like Ketel One or Grey Goose.
  • Gin: even though I have none in my cabinet right now, I like it a lot! Faves are Bombay Sapphire and Junipero
  • I love sweet/sour & bitter drinks, with preference lately to vodka: Vodka Tonic, Cape Cod, Salty Dog/Greyhound
  • Brown water (bourbon/scotch/rye): Blanton's and Gentleman Jack are two faves, although Ardbeg and Laphroaig are two other faves, must try more. Woodford Reserve is nice too. I wanna try Buffalo Trace and Old Potrero. Maker's Mark is passable but I prefer it to mix with ginger ale.

I've made a few infusions & liqueurs over the years. Here are a few:

  • Meyer Lemon-cello
  • Krupnikas (spiced honey liqueur)
  • Apple Pie (apple cider+juice)
  • Pineapple (fresh pineapple)
  • Bitters (a whole host of 'em!)

The base of most of these is Everclear, aka grain alcohol. You can only buy 151 proof in California, but a quick trip out of state can obtain 190 proof.

Infusions that I've liked in the past few years (all involve soaking in grain alcohol for a period of time, then straining off the solids carefully thru fine-mesh strainer (such as chinois) and/or coffee filter paper. BTW, if you have a vacuum pump + flask, you'll get much more effective filtering!
  • Pineapple: soak fresh pineapple in vodka or grain alcohol for 1-2 weeks, strain off the solids
  • Zesty Bourbon: soak lemon, grapefruit and orange zests in bourbon (this one is courtesy of Scott @ Cyrus in Healdsburg) for about 2 weeks
  • Cranberry: soak fresh cranberries for 4 weeks, strain off solids

Some other infusions that have done well over the years:

  • Cranberry Raisin: soak dried cranberries and raisins for a couple of months, discard solids. After 5-6 years or so, the flavor really mellows out nicely

Some that didn't do so well:

  • Fresh plum: from the trip to Petaluma to visit T's grandparents. We'll see what happens, but doesn't smell/look good at this point, looks kinda oxidized and gross.

As far as bitters go, I've come up with a few recipes that are pretty good, but they're top secret :) Suffice it to say that a trip to Bevmo for Everclear and a trip to the local health food store for organic dried herbs and spices will lead to some nice essence extractions, which you can use to blend your own concoctions.

No comments: