DIY Sugar Cubes

diysugarcubesSugar cubes are simply that–cubes made out of sugar. They’re not hard to make, and if you DIY then you can make your cubes in fun shapes, flavors and colors.

For example, you could make rich cubes with demerara or turbinado sugar or grind up some vanilla beans for a flavored cube. Make cubes with absinthe or bitters for use in Champagne cocktails. A few drops of food coloring, and you have a party right there.

To make the sugar cubes (or hearts or stars or …), I used one teaspoon candy molds. But you could also use ice cube molds or spread the mixture 1/4 inch thick into a small cake pan and make quarter-inch squares.

DIY Sugar Cubes

1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon water Continue reading

DIY Bitters Recipes

cherry-bittersEven though you only use a drop or two, bitters are a very important cocktail ingredient. They can be the finishing touch¬† … or the thing that turns an unbalanced, so-so cocktail into a perfect drink. They take a little time to make at home, but if you’re into cocktail projects, it’s worth it.

Aromatic Bitters ~ This recipe produces something similar to Angostura bitters, also known as the bitters that most cocktail recipes call for. Everything from a Manhattan to a Pisco Sour includes this type of bitters.

Hellfire Bitters ~ Spicy bitters work well with cocktails that have a strong base liquor, such as mezcal or whiskey. A drop or two in a beer adds a little touch of heat and flavor as well.

Cherry Bitters ~ Used in place of aromatic or Angostura bitters, these give a hint of fruit to your drink without making your drink sweet.

In Bloom Bitters ~ Floral bitters mix well with tequila and gin drinks, complementing the herbal notes of the spirit.

Rhubarb Bitters ~ This is my Gin and Tonic helper. A little grapefruit and a few drops of Rhubarb Bitters makes for a fun and slightly different G&T.

DIY Strawberry Liqueur


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

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