Drink Up, Boys! (Originally published on 1/1/2014)

It’s no secret that I like making stuff. I have, at one point or another, done the following crafts: crochet, knit, sew, bake, make chocolates, quilt, cross stitch. It started with a strong hatred of sitting in front the TV doing nothing, and went from there. This post is about the liqueurs.

A friend of mine got a small group together, at the local kitchen store, to take a class about making liqueurs from another local, A.J. Rathbun, who had a book out, Luscious Liqueurs. It was a lot of fun, to say the least. Liquors are based on a particular alcohol base, and don’t need to be brewed, or distilled, just steeped.

The next summer, I made strawberry jam (damn, forgot one for the list!), and had a bunch of left over strawberries. What to do? What to do? My eyes fell upon the book I’d gotten from A.J. Ah-Ha! Off to the liquor store I went for some vodka! It went great! I had so much fun making it, I wanted to keep going.

Well, at the time, my daughter had a penchant for freeze dried fruit. I’d tried the little tubs of Just Fruit. But those didn’t last long, and they are expensive! So I’d nosed around on the internet (like you do!), and found these big tins at Emergency Essentials (out of Utah…but that’s another story). I’d ordered a can of strawberry slices and a can of raspberries. She loved them! After they ran out, I ordered again. But this time, the can of raspberries turned out to be a can of raspberry PIECES. She hated them and didn’t even finish the first bowl.

Which is the back story for what happened next. In questing about to find something else to make liqueurs with, I happened to see the can of raspberry pieces. Why not? The worst that could happen would be I waste a bottle of Everclear vodka. So I threw the prescribed amount of raspberries in a jar, added the Everclear, and THEN realized I had forgotten to hydrate the raspberries first! Too late then, and again, what’s the worst that could happen?

So I dutifully steeped, and swirled, and added simple syrup as directed. Time came for bottling. I opened the jar with the raspberries. My FSM! They smelled like straight grain alcohol when I opened them. I was afraid they were ruined. But I’d already spent a month on them. In for a penny; in for a pound I figured.

So you have to strain all the solids out, then strain the liqueur through cheese cloth a couple of times. It was much thicker than the strawberry had been. The first strain was easy. The second and third times took a lot more time. But a funny thing happened. I started getting more on my hands. I started absent mindlessly licking my fingers off. It started tasting good. Then it started tasting better. By the time I was done, I was ready to lick the jar, and clean the sink with my tongue!

So it was time for a test. A friend (who was also my day-care provider) was having a barbecue for the day-care families. I brought a bottle of both strawberry and raspberry. I made Wicked Lemonade for who ever wanted to test one. Boy, the strawberry was good. But the raspberry was AWESOME SAUCE! I’m told that it was the best barbecue they’d ever had. 🙂

My friend requested more for her own use. Her neighbors tried some, and requested more. It was great, making stuff for people who kept coming back for more!

Then we moved. All alone here. Have to start making new friends. My husband started going to a gaming night with some guys he works with. I started going once in a while with him. It was really a group of guys who got together and drink…and play some games. The liqueur I had was going to go bad soon, so I offered it up to the group. You’d have thought it was Christmas, and I was Santa!

So I’ve started it back up. It’s just small batches. I made more raspberry, strawberry, and banana.

Prepped and ready to go
Ready for the steeping
Final product – raspberry

But I take requests, and now we’re trying blueberry, apricot, apple, and coffee. I wish I could sell them; they’d go like gang busters! But CA doesn’t allow affordable licenses for this kind of operation. So I’ll just have to go on making them for personal use, and as gifts.

Raspberry, coffee, blueberry, and apricot, just a-steeping!

The blueberry and apricot didn’t come out so well, but I’ve now got three favorites: raspberry, banana, and coffee. I think it is time to make more. I’ve got a hankering for a chocolate martini made with banana liqueur! How ’bout you?