This first batch is from Linda Cunningham, http://www.his.com/~fandl/linda.html, who has been making liqueurs at home for many years. These are all recipes she uses, and their origins have been lost in time.
A few notes: My tastes run to using less sweetener than the recipes state as well, and a tsp of glycerine per bottle of the clear ones (crème de menthe is a good example) will provide that extra bit of body.
I specify "pure" extracts and they will make a *noticeable* difference in the final product. They should be available at most grocery stores and at specialty shops. Wagner's brand have always done well by me; they tend to be a little more expensive, but they are worth it.
The aging times here are minimum. The longer you can keep them stashed without opening, the better the final product will be. I know, it's hard!
Straining fruits out of the alcohol is a time-consuming process. Turn on the answering machine, be patient, use lots of cheesecloth wrung out in cold water for the first few runs (increasing the number of layers each time) and finish off with disposable (or those nifty gold) coffee strainers (every office has a million for the asking!). Let gravity do the work, and keep the bottles covered to keep the alcohol from evaporating while waiting. [Note - see my page on Filtering Techniques as well.]
If you use honey, you'll notice a tendency for the drinks to throw a deposit. It's harmless, but if you plan on presenting the bottle, you might want to decant. I do, and then sample the dregs. Quality control, don't you know.... :-)
The Noirot extracts are also good. I also tend to cut down the sugar they suggest. Here is a quickie recipe for a good sugar syrup.
[This is a different recipe for sugar syrup than given elsewhere. At first glance, this recipe and mine are interchangeable, but if you try these, I'd recommend following her instructions closely the first time.]
Equal parts of sugar (white or brown) and water, bring to a boil and simmer for five minutes. Cool before adding to recipe. Can also use an equivalent amount of honey. Sometimes you want the colour or taste of brown sugar; in fact I prefer it for the "brown" liqueurs like Amaretto, other times, you want it to be clear. Let your conscience (and taste for refined sugar) be your guide. Using standard honey for most recipes works well, but exotic flavoured ones (alfalfa for the Drambuie, orange blossom for the Grand Marnier) can turn an ordinary homemade beverage into something quite extra-ordinary.
I mostly do up a batch at a time and pour anything I have left into clean bottle and store in the back of the fridge until next time. As long as it's *scrupulously* clean, nothing will grow in it. Most of the time I use honey, though, except for things like clear crème de menthe where colour *does* make a difference.
Combine berries with 2 c. brandy, steep for 1 week. strain through jelly bag. Add remaining brandy and sweetener, bottle.
(The longer you can let this sit, the better. You might want to have several thicknesses of cheesecloth and some disposable coffee filters around to strain this, and wear rubber gloves -- blackberries will stain your hands something fierce, but the resulting beverage is a favourite in our home, poured into a brandy snifter for after dinner enjoyment with some Earl Grey tea. It's also the best thing for an upset stomach.)
measurement (unless stated otherwise)
|1 cup = 8 ounces =
||1 quart = 32 ounces =
|1 tbsp (tablespoon) =
1/2 ounce = 15ml
||1 fifth = 25.6 ounces = 750ml|
|1 tsp (teaspoon) =
1/6 ounce = 5ml
||1 pint = 16 ounces =