In Soviet Russia, they make this crazy drink out of bull balls...
August 11, 2011 8:52 AM   Subscribe

What kind of crazy and obscure drinks can I brew at home?

So the other day I gave a business associate a bottle of homemade kombucha and in return he traded me a bottle of Nocino. I'd never heard of such a concoction but oh boy it was mmm mmm good!

This got me thinking: besides wine, beer, mead, ginger ale, and kombucha, what are some other drinks I can make at home? The more obscure and culturally significant the better.

I live just north of San Francisco so I have access to pretty much everything.

posted by buckaroo_benzai to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
posted by LN at 8:53 AM on August 11, 2011

In Soviet Russia, they make we used to buy this crazy drink out of bull balls, uh, milk and kefir grains and stuff. It seems pretty trivial to make, though.
posted by griphus at 9:03 AM on August 11, 2011

posted by The Whelk at 9:04 AM on August 11, 2011

You can go further than ginger ale and make any kind of soda with yeasty carbonation. You can make sake or drinking vinegar or kvass. If you are really adventurous, you could try to make kumis, or kefir, or other obscure fermented dairy products.
posted by mkb at 9:04 AM on August 11, 2011

Also, you can do a lot of good infusing hard alcohol with fruits, spices, bacon, etc. I like this one.
posted by mkb at 9:06 AM on August 11, 2011

Nocino seems to be a liqueur rather than a brew, which makes it even easier than wine or beer (no distilling involved -- just dump everything in a jug and let it sit for several months, strain, let sit another month, there you go).

Other liqueurs include:

* limoncello, an Italian lemon liqueur (the linked site is AMAZING for "how do you make a liqueur in general anyway" knowledge)
* fragola, an Italian strawberry liqueur (I've used that recipe and it is SO easy)
* amaretto (I've used a similar recipe that leaves out the apricot kernels)

And there are tons more on this guy's site, and he also has a good "how do I make liqueurs" tutorial. Also, somewhere on line there is a fantastic recipe (which I seem to not be able to find at present) involving apricots and cardamom, which you let steep for half a year. If you can find it, make that. TRUST ME.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:06 AM on August 11, 2011 [4 favorites]

Skirting around the edges of your question, I think: sun-teas, various tea-like herb infusions, coffees, etc are all "brewed" but probably not what you're talking about, they take maybe 5 minutes and you're talking about a project.

Infused vodkas/gins/brandys are all delicious projects, involve waiting a long time, tinkering around with recipes/proportions/seasonings and trying again, but aren't exactly "brewing", there's no chemical change, yeast stuff, etc. But you get to consider what fruits go well with which alcohol base, whether you want to add spices, how much sugar is enough/too much... damson plums in gin, for example, is delicious, but easy to have too much cinnamon.
posted by aimedwander at 9:09 AM on August 11, 2011

Response by poster: Sorry, yes, I should have probably just said "make" instead of "brew". Great suggestions so far. Keep 'em coming!
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 9:18 AM on August 11, 2011

How about licor de leite, the Portguese liqueur made from milk, lemon & chocolate that ends up looking and tasting like none of those things.
posted by bcwinters at 9:19 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Not necessarily obscure or crazy, but very New Orleans and so, so delicious: coffee concentrate.
posted by Signed Sealed Delivered at 9:22 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

How about ginger tea? There was a post about it recently and I tried to make myself some. It's delicious with honey, and you can ice it. Buy your ginger at an asian supermarket though- it'll be cheaper and fresher.
posted by catwash at 9:31 AM on August 11, 2011

Have you ever wanted to try wine made from hastily fermented pineapple rind? That's called tepache.
posted by chrchr at 9:40 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Chicha or apfelwein.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:44 AM on August 11, 2011

posted by Meatbomb at 10:14 AM on August 11, 2011

You could do what some people call hibiscus tea, and Trinidadians call sorrel. It's an iconic Christmastime drink for us. The way we make it in my house is we boil the flowers in a pot of water with some clove and whatever amount of sugar we want. Some people also use ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and things of that sort, but that's just not how I was brought up. We use fresh sorrel, but dried is supposed to be fine too. (If you do get fresh ones, you don't need to cut the seeds out, but you fit a lot more in the pot if you do.) When that's done, you can leave the sweetened drink outside in bottles for a few days so it ferments a bit, then put it in the fridge when you're satisfied with its progress. To many people, including me, fermentation is very desirable, even necessary, but some people hate it and refrigerate immediately. We only drink it cold here, at least as far as I know, but I suppose you could have it hot if you wanted. Have fun!
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 10:21 AM on August 11, 2011

Horchata? It is so much better when you make it from real ingredients and not the powder.

I'm curious as to what beverages you *can't* make at home, so maybe I'm missing something about your question.
posted by freezer cake at 10:21 AM on August 11, 2011

Food in Jars recently had a Drink Week; you'd probably enjoy the cherry bounce and the blackberry shrub recipes.
posted by Vervain at 10:36 AM on August 11, 2011

Black raspberry shrub, that is.
posted by Vervain at 10:37 AM on August 11, 2011

Gingerbeer! A friend brews it at home, in a slightly alcoholic version with yeast. It can also be done in a non-fermented version.
posted by gingerbeer at 11:22 AM on August 11, 2011

Root beer
Ginger ale

I was once told that you can get good results by sterilizing a mason jar, filling it almost to the brim with raspberries and then filling to just over the top of the berries with vodka. Cap tightly and let sit for six months, shaking jar vigorously every couple of weeks. I haven't had the gumption to try it, though...
posted by MonkeyToes at 12:51 PM on August 11, 2011

Yum; homemade nocino is awesome.

Try salep? I drank this stuff every day when I was in Istanbul.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 5:43 PM on August 11, 2011

you need winter but: gl├╝hwein
posted by at 6:05 PM on August 11, 2011

I'll second Apfelwein. So easy to make and will get you silly in a hurry.

Also, if you're into cocktails/mixology, its becoming popular to make your own "house" vermouths and bitters for your drinks. This can be especially fun if you're into martinis and manhattans. See here for a great primer. on the subject.

Lastly, if you're a fan of good beer and you've never brewed it before, definitely do that!
posted by teriyaki_tornado at 7:00 AM on August 12, 2011

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