DIY Spiced Rum

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.

Low-Calorie Piña Colada (aka Skinny Piña Colada)

skinnypinacoladaThis drink has that lovely coconut-pineapple flavor that makes the Piña Colada so popular … only with half the calories. Savvy Housekeeping made coconut-infused vodka, and we got together for a low-calorie summer tropical cocktail party. Call it a Skinny Colada or whatever you like, but one thing is for sure: It’s damn tasty!

The infusion uses dried, shredded coconut (the kind used for baking, so you probably have half an old bag of the stuff in your cupboard). Using vodka let the pure coconut flavor shine through, but it would also be good with a light rum. We made ours a double, but you could easily halve it for a smaller drink. We also juiced a fresh pineapple, but the canned stuff would work just as well. Grab your tiny umbrella and get mixing!

Skinny Piña Colada

3 ounces Coconut-infused vodka (recipe at the link)
2 ounces pineapple juice
1/2 ounce lime juice

Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice. Shake drink and strain into a glass.

Photo by Savvy Housekeeping

Tomato Martini

Store-bought tomatoes can’t compete with the ones grown in a home garden. My two tomato plants are producing like mad. But I’m not complaining! Sweet, juicy tomatoes can go in everything, even cocktails. For something lighter than a Bloody Mary, I like the Tomato Martini. Tomato is right at home with the garden flavors and scents of gin! Add a little vermouth and Lillet, and you’re ready for garden Happy Hour!

Tomato Martini

2 ounces tomato-infused gin*
1/2 ounce extra dry vermouth
1 splash Lillet Blanc

Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice and stir, then strain into chilled cocktail glass. Optional: Garnish with cherry tomatoes speared on a toothpick

*Tomato-infused Gin

1 part London dry gin
1 part ripe tomato

Chop tomato into chunks, place in sealable glass jar, and then pour gin on top. Seal and shake. Let steep at room temperature away from direct sunlight for one day. Taste to see if desired flavor is achieved. If not, let steep for an additional day. (One large tomato is about 1 cup chopped. So using 1 cup of gin and 1 cup tomato makes enough infused gin for four drinks.)

Photo by Jackson Stakeman

Tequila Fresa Punch

Even though Spring has sprung, it will still be a while before a lot of fruit is in season. So let’s enjoy one delicious fruit that’s ready now: strawberries!

This berry is a great companion for many spirits, but I particularly like the way its sweetness accents the lightly smoky notes in a tequila reposado. Reposado is aged, so it is the lighter amber-colored tequila. Be sure to use 100% agave tequila and not a “mixto,” which may be the same color but isn’t the same thing.

Here’s a recipe for the infused tequila and the punch. (You can scale up the punch recipe to serve more and make the tequila infusion with equal parts tequila and strawberries in whatever quantity you’ll need.)

Strawberry-Infused Tequila Reposado
1 part tequila reposado
1 part chopped strawberries

Steep for about five days.

Tequila Fresa Punch
(1 serving)

1 1/2 ounces parts strawberry-infused tequila reposado
1/2 ounce triple sec
3/4 ounce orange juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
2 ounces grapefruit soda
1 dash orange bitters
Sliced strawberries for garnish

Shake all ingredients except the soda and strawberries in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into chilled old fashioned glass with several ice cubes. Add the soda on top of the strained liquid. Garnish with strawberries.

Photo by Jackson Stakeman

Hey, Fig Spender

If you like figs and Manhattans (which you have to! because they are both delicious!), here’s a sweet, autumn variation on a Manhattan. It’s the perfect drink to sip by the fireplace.

Go DIY and make fig bourbon to use in this recipe. If you’re really feeling adventurous, make the bitters yourself, too. Dubonnet is an aperitif much like sweet vermouth, and it can be found in most liquor stores. However, this would taste great with vermouth as a substitute.

Pardon the punny name … I couldn’t resist.

Hey, Fig Spender

2 ounces fig-infused bourbon*
1 ounce Dubonnet
2 dashes cherry bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

*Fig-infused bourbon

1 part bourbon
1 part fresh figs, stemmed and quartered

Put the figs in a sealable glass jar and pour in the bourbon. Seal the jar and shake. Let the infusion steep for 3-5 days, tasting after each day until the desired flavor is achieved. For a stronger flavor, steep for even longer. Strain out the solids through cheese cloth. Store infused bourbon as you would any other spirit.

This recipe was invented using a ratio from the book! For tips and recipes for more simple yet amazing homemade drinks, check out DIY Cocktails

Photo by wickenden