How can I use flavored liqueurs?
April 26, 2009 6:33 PM   Subscribe

Does anyone know the difference between, and good instructions for, flavored and infused liqueurs?

I like to cook using interesting and uncommon ingredients. I like using my own infused oils (annatto, mostly) and homemade extracts (lavender and rose). I don't drink much other than the occasional beer so know very little about alcohol, besides using white wine in sauces. I've also added schnapps to ice cream to keep it soft. That's about it.

Seeing this instructable has made me want to try to make some liqueur, either for cooking or drinking. Specifically I like the ideas of coffee and cocoa liqueurs but am open to anything. What are the advantages to this over just an infused vodka? What are some obvious or not-so-obvious things I could do with this stuff? Does anyone have any good instructions other than the one I linked?

I know a lot of this stuff is easily google-able, but I'd prefer to hear from the great cooks and chefs here on the green.
posted by monkeymadness to Food & Drink (13 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
You're in luck, Lifehacker just posted this.
posted by pyro979 at 6:45 PM on April 26, 2009

In the vein . . . Vodka Gummi Bears
posted by geekyguy at 7:11 PM on April 26, 2009

Someone I know did extensive experimenting towards making apple flavored vodka. My instinct would have been to macerate the apple, increasing the reactive surface area, as per one of those laws of thermodynamics. However, her experiments pointed to whole green apples, with a hole skewered though the core, top to bottom, and then left to soak in vodka for a week or two. This produced the maximum apple flavor in the infusion.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:15 PM on April 26, 2009

Cranberries with sugar soaked in vodka for a month, now that's some good booze!
posted by TeatimeGrommit at 7:58 PM on April 26, 2009

I have always wanted to use Saveur's recipe for orange bitters. Saveur has other recipes for bar staples as well.
posted by Foam Pants at 8:16 PM on April 26, 2009

My experiments in this area taught me that spices can get very, very concentrated. Don't use much.

Also, soaking strawberries in rum for a month can work well, but only if there are no wonky ones in the batch you're using. One underripe one can throw the whole bottle off and make it undrinkable. Chances of having at least one whitish, off, flavorless strawberry in a typical plastic box of U.S. grocery strawberries are high.
posted by gimonca at 8:51 PM on April 26, 2009

In my experience, the only difference between a liqueur and an infused vodka is how long you steep the fruit in the vodka - if it's just a week, you have a flavored vodka. But if you let it steep for more than a week -- say a couple months -- then more of the flavor of the fruit/whatever leaches out and you have crossed over into a liqueur.

I went through a liqueur-making phase a couple years ago (I still make my own amaretto) and this was a good web site to find.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:17 PM on April 26, 2009

Our friends really like the cherry bounce bourbon we make every spring, from a centuries old North Carolina recipe. This process is called "maceration" and we use it to make limoncello and damson gin, as well.
posted by ragtimepiano at 11:42 PM on April 26, 2009 [2 favorites]

I definitely plan to make the coffee and chocolate liqueurs in the Instructable I linked to. It was also linked from Lifehacker, which is where it caught my eye initially. EmpressCallipygos's link looks promising. Foam Pants gets a thumbs up because I trust Saveur, and orange and spice sounds amazing.

TeatimeGrommit's cranberry vodka sounds festive. I might give it a go as a trial run for potential Christmas gifts.

Any other uses for this stuff beyond getting Girl Drink Drunk? I like to entertain with food. Maybe this will convince me to start mixing a cocktail or two, though.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:33 AM on April 27, 2009

We make (a version of) Centerbe using a recipe we have from a book, but I've found a very similar recipe here (Google-translated page)

So far this comment is recycled from this question, which you might also find helpful.

But you might also find Liqueurweb and Gunter Anderson's site useful. I have ambitions beyond my powers of organisation so haven't tried that many homemade liqueurs, but can heartily recommend the Centerbe above.
posted by calico at 12:07 PM on April 27, 2009

Oh, and riffing off the title, how could you use them -- mixed drinks is just one option. But another option I've heard is pouring a shot of them over ice cream, or spiking sorbets with them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:12 AM on April 28, 2009

Oh, and I just found a whole site devoted to cooking with liqueurs and there's a cookbook out there devoted to the same topic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 AM on April 28, 2009

I've got a bottle each of chocolate and coffee liqueur sitting in my kitchen right now. In a few days I'll filter and then wait a few months. I'm not cut out for this patience thing. Thanks for the tips, everyone.
posted by monkeymadness at 1:16 PM on May 4, 2009

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