This year’s Christmas present and party treat du jour? (No, not a urine sample.)
I was thinking I wanted to make something myself, something that would keep, something I could package nicely… Ah, what the heck, booze. I got some nice bottles to fill and some vodka. Some spices (organic) and fruit (less organic than I would like). Don’t get cheap vodka. Get a decent one.
Cardamom and Vanilla Vodka – very classy – infusion time about 1 week (or a few days over, if you want strong flavour)
- a few green cardamom pods, crushed gently with the flat side of a knife
- 1 organic vanilla bean, slit lengthwise
- 35ml vodka (half a bottle)
In 2007, I had a wonderful fruity cocktail at a gay bar in Amsterdam. (The things I remember, honestly.) They used cardamom vodka they’d infused themselves. A mix of fruit and fruitjuices plus cardamom vodka – gorgeous. So this is sort of in memory of that lovely drinkie. And also, Martha Stewart suggested mixing cardamom with vanilla. Pop your spices in the bottle. Keep the bottle in a cool, dark place for a few days or up to a week, shake it at least once a day and keep tasting until the spices feel infused enough for you. They really ought to cover the smell of alcohol.
After a week, there’s a nice balance in the taste, cardamom’s slightly stronger. The colour is a creamy yellow. Cardamom and vanilla are both pretty subtle, so they’ll have to infuse a bit longer than, say, star anise… which brings me to:
Apricot, Cinnamon, Clove, Cardamom & Star Anise Vodka – very christmassy – infusion time about 5 days
- 8-10 dried apricots
- a few star anise, or just one if anise scares you
- a few cloves
- a few crushed green cardamom pods
- half a stick of cinnamon
- 35ml vodka
I was planning to do an apricot, star anise and cardamom vodka. But I went a bit nuts with the anise. After a day, it was beginning to smell medicinal, so I took most of them out and added part of a stick of organic cinnamon and a few cloves. A huge improvement. I imagine this would be fantastic for spiking and spicing – in one fell swoop – white wine glogg or hot cider. Treat similarly to the previous vodka, except it may take a couple of days less to infuse because of the ingredients having so much character.
So far, so Breaking Bad. I take my jar and bottle out each day, have a sniff and a sip, give a shake, check the colour… Breaking Xmas… But like I say to the kids in English class: “We don’t use the b-word here and we don’t say it to our friends.” I sieved it, through a coffee filter and a funnel, into a bottle after 5 days of infusion. I will be trying it with some store-bought non-alcoholic white glogg (or as we call it here, glögi). Or perhaps I will heat up some dry cider and spike it. Should work a treat!
Pear and Cinnamon Vodka – winter approriate, sophisticated and delicate – infusion time about 1 week
- half a pear, peeled and thinly sliced (to fit into the bottle)
- 1 stick of organic cinnamon, broken up
- 50 ml vodka
Just a couple days into infusing, the colour is already going a beautiful coppery brown. It’s not done yet, so no photo. But I think it will be lovely.
And as a bonus, I decided to try if I could make a little vin chaud -style spiker. In stead of having to heat up your spices with the red wine and adding brandy and orange slices to the mix, I thought how about infusing brandy with all the spices and adding a touch of triple sec for that sweet citrus flavour. I’d still add fresh orange slices to the vin chaud, though. It’s required.
Vin Chaud Brandy – infusion time 1 week
- 25 ml French Brandy
- tiny splash of triple sec or cointreau
- 1 star anise
- 1/3 cinnamon stick, broken up
- 1/2 vanilla pod, sliced open
- 5 cloves