The Art of Darkness

DIY Bar Supplies (Part 1)

September 19th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Bar SuppliesMy pal Empress Pam had a birthday recently, and I gave her a collection of homemade bar supplies as a gift. They were a lot of fun to put together, so I figured I’d pass the recipes on in case anyone wants to try them out.

These are easy, not too expensive, and can be made over a period of several weeks. They also taste better than most commercial versions of the product, and you know exactly what ingredients are in them.

They look attractive packaged in matching containers (I used swingtop bale jars and bottles from Specialty Bottle), but they can be put in anything from thrifted vintage bottles to recycled spaghetti sauce jars. For extra appeal, especially if these are meant as a gift, you could decorate the bottles with glass paint to make them a little more match-y. Label them–I used manila tags, but you could paint the contents on the bottle or use computer-printed labels–and arrange them in a basket, wooden crate, or similar container. Decorate with a bit of ribbon and add a tag with an appropriate quote (such as, “Drunkenness is nothing but voluntary madness. — Seneca”).

Since there are several recipes, I’m breaking this into two parts; the second half will go up tomorrow.

Maraschino Cherries – Makes 1 pint

1 lb cherries
1 C Maraschino liqueur (or substitute, see below)

If possible, use sour cherries for this: They can occasionally be found at farmer’s markets and upscale grocery stores. If you can’t find sour cherries, look for slightly-underripe sweet cherries (I used a mixture of Bing and Rainier cherries for the color variation). I don’t recommend using canned or frozen cherries, since the texture tends to be mushy.

Most homemade maraschino cherry recipes call for Maraschino liqueur, which is crazy expensive. If you want to be authentic, or if you happen to have a bottle that you bought for some long-forgotten cocktail recipe and haven’t used since, go for it. Otherwise, a passable substitute can be made using Kirsch and simple syrup. To substitute the 1 C of Maraschino liqueur called for in this recipe, mix 3/4 C Kirsch (or other clear cherry liquor), 1/4 C simple syrup (bring 1 part water to a boil, stir in 2 parts sugar until completely dissolved, remove from heat and cool), and either 3 Tbsp Amaretto or 2 Tbsp pure almond extract.

Wash, stem, and pit the cherries. Bring liqueur to a simmer in a small saucepan, then add cherries and turn off the heat. Let cool completely, then store in a covered jar and refrigerate for at least a week before using. That’s all there is to it! These will last, refrigerated, up to six months.

Grenadine – Makes about 3 cups

2 C pomegranate juice (bottled is fine; just make sure it’s 100% juice)
1 1/2 C sugar
1/3 C pomegranate molasses (can be found at Middle Eastern groceries)
1 1/2 tsp orange flower water (can also be found at Middle Eastern groceries)
3 T high-proof (over 80) vodka or grain alcohol (optional; lengthens shelf life)

Put juice in a saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat, and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add sugar, stirring until it dissolves, then simmer another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pomegranate molasses and simmer for another 3 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat and cool completely. Pour into a jar, add orange flower water and vodka, seal, and shake. Refrigerate. This can be used immediately and will keep, refrigerated, about 1 month (or 3 months if you added the vodka).

Cocktail Onions – Makes 1 pint

1 lb small pearl onions (I used a mixture of white, red, and golden for the color contrast)
1 tsp whole peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole coriander seed
1/2 tsp mustard seed
1/2 tsp juniper berries
1 dried red chili pepper (I use the little chiles de arbol) or 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 large bay leaf
2 large sprigs fresh thyme
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one lime
1 1/2 C white wine vinegar
1 1/2 C water
1/4 C sugar
1 T kosher salt
1/2 C dry white vermouth

Peel the onions: The easiest way is to drop them in boiling water for about 30 seconds, then drain and drop into ice water to arrest cooking. Cut off the root end and slip off the skin.

Combine all ingredients except onions and vermouth in a saucepan over medium-low heat and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Add onions, bring to a boil, and boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Cool to room temperature, then add vermouth and stir to combine. Pour into a jar and refrigerate. Will keep, refrigerated, at least six months.

Mixed-Berry Shrub – Makes about 2 cups

1 C ripe berries (I used a mixture of blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1 C sugar
1 C cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

Wash berries, drain, then place in a bowl and lightly crush with a wooden spoon. Stir in sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the juice from the berries starts to form a syrup. This can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days, depending upon the fruit being used. A longer maceration won’t cause any harm, so they can be left for up to a week if necessary. Give the mixture a stir occasionally.

When ready to proceed, give the mixture a good stir and then strain into a bowl, pressing down on solids to express as much liquid as possible. Discard the mashed berry gunk.

Add vinegar to syrup and stir well. Pour into a bottle and refrigerate for two or three days, shaking occasionally to dissolve any lingering sugar. This will keep, refrigerated, at least three months.

Shrubs can be made with a variety of soft fruit. They’re great splashed into seltzer for a summery beverage, and can also be used for cocktails.

More tomorrow!

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 4 Comments »

4 Responses

  1. Empress Pam Says:

    These gifts were SO amazing! Truly the best ever. And I look forward to getting a good drunk on with them! I could bathe in the maraschino cherries alone.

  2. xJane Says:

    Mmm, makes me want to mix drinks…

  3. joasakura Says:

    happy timing! I just found this while I was eating my lunch! (okokok I like to read food shopping or recipe sites on my lunchbreak! )

    Simple Syrup recipes for edible flowers:

  4. jodi randle Says:

    Gotcha! This is perfect for halloween! I’ve been trying to look for articles like this last week as part of our halloween party preparation. I’m glad I’ve found this site. This is really perfect!

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