DIY Strawberry Liqueur

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Summer is a great time to enjoy fresh strawberries. If you’re looking for another way to include strawberries in your life (and your cocktails), try this homemade strawberry liqueur. It’s super-easy and super-good. I like to use it in Sangria.

DIY Strawberry Liqueur

8 ounces strawberries, roughly sliced
1 sprig fresh tarragon (optional, but highly recommended)
1 1/2 cups vodka
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Steep strawberries and tarragon with vodka for two days. Strain and then filter the mixture through cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Press down to extract as much liquid as possible. Then, bring water and sugar to a boil. Once that syrup is cool, combine it with the strawberry-tarragon vodka mixture. Let the combination rest for at least one day. Refrigerate, if desired. Store 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 Limoncello

112911-181461-diyvsbuy-diylimoncelloLemons! What to do with them? Make limoncello, silly. It’s as easy as zesting lemons and waiting. I used Meyer lemons, which I much prefer. But you can use any kind of lemon you please.

If you can’t get a hold of of an Everclear 151-type alcohol, use the highest proof vodka available to you (80 proof is standard vodka, but there’s often 100 proof vodka available, too.). Continue reading

DIY Blackberry Liqueur

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It’s blackberry season! Depending on where you live, fresh blackberries may just be lurking at every corner. Here’s a fun way to turn that delicious bounty into something drinkable.

If blackberry picking isn’t an option for you, go with the frozen kind, which are preserved when ripe. The blackberries in the produce section tend to be sour and unripe, since a ripe blackberry turns to a mushy purple mess quickly.

I actually prefer the DIY variety to commercial blackberry liqueur (aka creme de mure).

DIY Blackberry Liqueur
2 cups blackberries (defrost first, if using frozen)
3/4 cup brandy
1 1/4 cups vodka
1/2-inch piece of lime zest without pith (optional)
1 cup simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water)

In a sealable glass jar, muddle the blackberries and lime zest lightly to release juice and then add brandy and vodka. Seal and shake. Steep for 3 days, then strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down to extract juice. Filter through a coffee filter or two layers of cheesecloth.

Add simple syrup to the strained infusion and shake in sealed jar. Let rest for one day before use.

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

DIY Honey Liqueur

20120921-221387-diyhoneyliqueurThere are all sorts of exciting honeys hiding out at farmers markets and local shops. Go get some! And then? Use some of it to make honey liqueur. It’s so easy! Sugar is usually the go-to sweetener for cocktails, but honey liqueur will give a deep, rich flavor that sugar just doesn’t.

I used the basic Clover honey (the kind in the bear), which is the mildest and most common variety sold in most grocery stores. That’s why I jazzed it up with orange and cinnamon. But lavender honey, blackberry honey and other types have more flavor, so try your honey alone before deciding it you want to add other flavors to your liqueur. Continue reading

DIY Rhubarb Bitters

diyvsbuy-rhubarbbittersIt’s rhubarb season! So get thee to a market and buy some of these gorgeous magenta stalks. Rhubarb is a great cocktail ingredient in general (as you can see if you try this recipe or any of these recipes).  But so far my favorite way to cocktail it up with rhubarb is rhubarb bitters, which pair well with every spirit and complement sweet, sour, and bitter flavors alike.

My favorite way to use these bitters is to make a Gin & Tonic, squeeze in a little grapefruit and then top with the bitters. But really you can use them in place of grapefruit bitters or to tie together a lighter cocktail. Cinchona bark and angelica root are often available at herb shops or Latin markets. You can also buy them online.

Remember: Rhubarb leaves are poisonous and should not be used for any recipes. Only the stalks are edible.

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