DIY Melon Liqueur

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Melons have more concentrated sweetness than other fruits and a distinct funky undertone that really pairs well with alcohol. A good melon liqueur can turn basic club soda into a sophisticated summer cooler or add another layer to a complex tiki drink.

Melon Liqueur
2 cups chopped cantaloupe (about half a melon)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Combine chopped melon and vodka in a glass jar. Seal and shake, then et mixture steep for 3 days at room temperature. Strain fruit out, pressing down to extract liquid. Filter mixture through a coffee filter or through two layers of cheesecloth. Boil sugar and water over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Let syrup cool. Combine syrup with the melon infusion. Seal in bottle or jar, then shake to mix. Let rest for a minimum of one day. Store in the refrigerator for up to two months.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column.

DIY Falernum

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You may not have heard of falernum, but if you love Tiki cocktails then you probably love falernum. It’s a combination of lime and spices, either as a rum liqueur or a syrup. Give it a try! This recipe brightens the sour notes of citrus and adds a hint of spice.

DIY Falernum
1/3 cup raw almonds (sliced)
30 cloves
1/2 cup light rum
8 limes
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup water

Toast the almonds on a cookie sheet at 400 degrees for about five minutes, until slightly darkened and fragrant. Let cool. Put almonds and cloves in a jar with the rum. Steep for two days. Zest limes and add zest to the jar. Steep for one day, then strain through cheesecloth. Juice four of the limes and strain juice into pot with water and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, about five minutes. Let cool. Combine with strained almond and clove infusion. Strain entire mixture through a coffee filter (optional). Let rest for 12 hours before use.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column.

DIY Swedish Punsch

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Because of its funky spiced flavor, you’ll see a lot of pre-Prohibition cocktails that call for Swedish Punsch. But it’s also great in tiki drinks and as the base for a twist on Hot Buttered Rum. It can be hard to find, but you can make your own!

Swedish Punsch
1 lemon, sliced thin and seeded
1 clove
1 cardamom pod, crushed<
1 cup cachaça
1 Darjeeling (or similar) tea bag
1/2 cup hot water
2/3 cup sugar

Combine lemon, clove and crushed cardamom pod in a glass jar and add the cachaça. Let rest for 24 hours. Steep the tea bag in the hot water for 5 to 7 minutes, remove the bag and add sugar to make it into a syrup. Let it cool.

Fine-strain the infused cachaça mixture and then mix the infusion with the tea syrup. Let the mixture rest overnight.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column.

DIY Chocolate Liqueur

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Delicately sweet with a hint of bitterness, a homemade chocolate liqueur (aka creme de cacao) is like an expensive dark chocolate bar in your drink instead of like a jigger of Nestle Quik. Give it as a Christmas gift or use it in holiday cocktails!

DIY Chocolate Liqueur
1 1/3 cup vodka
2/3 cup cacao nibs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a sealable glass jar, steep the cacao nibs in the vodka for 8 days. Bring the sugar and water to a boil. Once cooled, add this syrup and vanilla extract to the jar. Leave steeping for one more day. Strain and filter into a bottle or jar for storage.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column.

DIY Spiced Rum

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Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of spiced rum! Skip the Captain Morgan, because making your own is so easy. Try your DIY Spiced Rum in a Dark ‘n’ Stormy or any other cocktails you’d normally use the store-bought stuff in.

Spiced Rum
3 cups light rum
1/2 cup gold rum
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
zest of half an orange
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
3 allspice berries
1 star anise pod, broken
2 cardamom pods
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
1 slice of ginger, roughly the size of a nickel
3 black peppercorns

Combine ingredients in a glass jar. Let steep for two days. Sample to check flavor and make possible adjustments. Steep for up to five days, shaking daily. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the larger items and then strain again through a coffee filter into a bottle.

The recipe I created and posted here was first published on Serious Eats in my DIY vs. Buy column.