Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Give the gift of homemade booze

Posted By on Wed, Dec 7, 2011 at 11:24 AM


So it's that time of year again. The time for holiday spirit and cheer and goodwill towards mankind and stuff. But aside from all the Kumbaya blah, we all know what this time of year is mostly about: buying a bunch of crap for a bunch of people you care about. Giving gifts is awesome, that is, if you can afford it. But some people ::ahem:: just don't have it like that. Be it tough times, the economy, bad spending habits; a healthy relationship with Fernet Branca perhaps? Whatever the case may be, lack of funds always manages to put a damper on the spirit of the holidays. Or does it?

You don't have to let being broke spoil all the fun of gifting. Step away from Amazon and make your gifts this year! It's 2011, DIY gifts have evolved significantly since the days of birdhouses made out of popsicle sticks and ornaments dripping with red and green doilies. For those that tend to default to booze when it comes to the idea of gifts and celebration, here are a few homemade liqueurs/spirit infusions that are easy to make and bottle yourself, including one from bartender Miles Macquarrie of Leon's Full Service.

Doing it yourself is personal and crafty and all of your favorite drinking buddies will appreciate it a lot more than a mustache coffee mug. Ok, bad example, those mugs are pretty sweet, but you get the picture. Besides, as an added bonus you can enjoy getting your buzz on while conducting all the necessary quality assurance on your creation whatever it is you decide to make.

Bitter Chamomile Elixir by Miles Macquarrie.


2 cups sugar
2 cups water
1/2 cup German Chamomile (loose, not tea bags)
1 tablespoon freshly ground gentian
Benedictine (about 2 cups)

Combine sugar, water, chamomile, and gentian in a sauce pot and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool and then strain through a chinois. Measure liquid and you'll add equal parts benedictine to whatever amount of liquid you have left. Ex. 16 oz bitter chamomile syrup, 16 oz Benedictine. This comes out to be 20% Alcohol (40 proof). The gentian and Benedictine make this a great Cordial to have after a meal due to their digestive properties. Chamomile and gentian can both be found at a good health food store like Sevananda or Health Unlimited.

More after the jump

Grandma's Apple Pie 'Ala Mode' Moonshine posted by UNCHAINED on


1/2 gallon apple juice
1/2 gallon apple cider
4 cinnamon sticks
1 whole clove
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 cups 190 proof grain alcohol (such as Everclear®)
2 cups vanilla vodka


Paolo Esposito’s Neapolitan Limoncello: An Italian lemon liqueur posted by Midwestern Exposure.

10 organic lemons, washed and dried
1 L grain alcohol (Everclear)
750 grams (just shy of 3 3/4 cups) sugar
1 L water


Coal Region Boilo: A traditional Yultide drink from the Penn. coal region posted by Sandy Long of The River Reporter in New York.


1 pint water
4 oranges, quartered
3 lemons, quartered
6 cinnamon sticks
½ teaspoon whole allspice
½ teaspoon whole cloves
1 cup raisins or currants
1 tsp. caraway seeds
4½ pounds clover honey
½ gallon 190-proof grain alcohol or your choice of whiskey


Kümmel: A caraway liqueur posted by

2 tablespoons crushed caraway seed
1 tablesppon crushed fennel seed
1½ teasppons ground cumin
3 cups vodka
2 cups sugar
1 cup water


Homemade Amaretto from


For the macerating mixture:
1/2 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots
3/4 cup bottled or purified water
2 cups vodka
1 3/4 cups whole, skin-on, coarsely chopped almonds
1 cup brandy
1/4 cup coarsely chopped apricot kernels
1/4 cup coarsely chopped dried, unsweetened cherries

To finish the liqueur:
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup bottled or purified water
1 cup vodka
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


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