The Art of Darkness

DIY Bar Supplies (Part 2)

September 20th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Bottles with LabelsContinuing from yesterday, here are the rest of the recipes from my Bar Supply Extravaganza.

Praline Liqueur – Makes about 4 cups

4 C pecan pieces, lightly toasted
4 C high-proof grain alcohol such as Everclear (or the highest-proof vodka you can get)
2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
2 C firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 C white sugar
2 1/2 C water

Place the pecan pieces and vanilla beans in a jar, cover with alcohol, and seal. Let sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks, shaking daily. Line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth (or a clean kitchen towel) and place over a bowl. Pour in the mixture, giving the cloth a squeeze to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve the vanilla beans. (You can discard the boozy nuts or use them as an ice-cream topping if you wish.) Line a strainer with a coffee filter and place over another bowl. Pour the mixture through it a little at a time; it will drip slowly and you’ll need to change the coffee filter fairly often.

Place sugars and water in a saucepan over medium-high heat and stir until sugars dissolve. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add reserved vanilla and simmer another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Remove vanilla and discard, then stir in the filtered mixture. Pour into bottles and store at room temperature. This will keep pretty much indefinitely, but for best flavor it should be used within a year. It’s great in coffee or poured over baked apples.

Lavender-Honey Liqueur – Makes about 5 cups

3 C high-proof grain alcohol such as Everclear (or the highest-proof vodka you can get)
1/2 C dried lavender flowers (make sure these are food-grade, and haven’t been artificially scented or colored)
1/2 tsp whole cloves
2 tsp black peppercorns
Peel of one orange (rind only; no white pith)
1 C sugar
1 C honey
2 C water

Place lavender, spices, and orange peel in a jar, cover with alcohol, and seal. Let sit in a cool, dark place for two weeks, shaking daily. Line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth (or a clean kitchen towel) and place over a bowl. Pour in the mixture, giving the cloth a squeeze to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard solids, clean the jar, pour the mixture back in, seal, and set aside for another week. A significant amount of particulate matter will eventually float to the top; skim this off with a spoon and discard. Line a strainer with a coffee filter and place over another bowl. Pour the mixture through it a little at a time; it will drip slowly and you’ll need to change the coffee filter fairly often.

Place sugar, honey, and water in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

Stir in lavender mixture, clean the jar again, and pour everything back in. Let sit another week. If more particulate gunk settles out, discard it and filter through coffee filters a second time.

Pour into bottles. The color will be a pretty honey-brown, but if you prefer it more lavender-y, add 6 drops of red and 2 drops of blue food coloring and shake well.

Angostura-Esque Bitters

I’m not going to lie to you guys: This last recipe is something of a commitment, both in terms of money (it takes a lot of ingredients, most of which you do not have lying around the pantry) and effort (there are one heck of a lot of steps). But making your own bitters is kind of badass.

This is adapted from a recipe here. Most of the ingredients are reasonably easy to find online, although I had a dickens of a time finding cinchona bark. It’s also called Peruvian bark, and is easier to locate under that name. I’ve included links to where I found everything.

You’ll probably have to buy more of the spices than you need for this project, but they last quite a while (especially if stored in the freezer) and most of them can be used for cooking or baking (you can use the leftover cinchona to make your own tonic water if you want).

1/2 C whole cloves
1/4 C black cardamom pods
2 oz cinnamon sticks
3/4 C blades of mace
2 Tbsp whole allspice berries
1/4 C cinchona bark
2 Tbsp quassia
1 heaping tsp gentian root
2/3 C black raisins
3 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
750 milliliters high-proof grain alcohol such as Everclear (or the highest-proof vodka you can get) plus a bit more if necessary

Peel (no white pith) of 2 lemons
Peel (no white pith) of 1 orange

4 C water

1 C dark brown sugar
1/4 C blackstrap molasses
1 C water

Put the cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, mace, and allspice in a ziploc bag and give them several bashes with a rolling pin. You don’t want to pulverize them, just help release their aromatic oils. Place them in a large nonreactive container along with the cinchona, quassia, gentian, raisins, and molasses. Pour in the 740 ml of alcohol. The solids should be covered by about a half-inch of alcohol; add a bit more if necessary.

Seal and store in a cool dark place for two weeks, shaking daily. The dry material may soak up a significant amount of alcohol, so top up to keep them covered if necessary.

After two weeks, peel the orange and lemons and add to the stuff in the jar, pressing down on them with a wooden spoon to help release their essential oils. Re-seal container and store for another two weeks, shaking daily.

Line a strainer with two layers of cheesecloth and place over a bowl. Pour the mixture through, pressing down on solids to release as much liquid as possible. Place reserved solids in a large pot (such as a stock pot) and cover with 4 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer 15 minutes to infuse the water. Let cool and strain through cheesecloth. Measure the strained alcohol and add half as much of the infused water. Place in a (clean) jar, seal, and let sit for a week. A crazy amount of particulate matter will probably accumulate at the top. Skim all of this off and discard. Line a strainer with a coffee filter and place over another bowl. Pour the mixture through it a little at a time; it will drip slowly and you’ll need to change the coffee filter fairly often.

To make simple syrup, put brown sugar, molasses, and water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Let cool, then add 3/4 C of syrup to bitters mixture (the rest is dandy in coffee or over ice cream).

Return the mixture to a (clean) jar and let sit for another week. If more particulate stuff settles out, skim it off and re-filter through a coffee filter. Once you’re satisfied with the clarity, bottle and store at room temperature. This will last at least a year.

In addition to a cocktail ingredient, this type of bitters is apparently very good as a digestive or as a remedy for upset stomachs.

Posted in Doom It Yourself | 1 Comment »

One Response

  1. jodi randle Says:

    I love this Lavender-Honey Liqueur. This gonna be one of our recipes to make. I love your posts so much. Thanks for sharing!

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