Homemade Liqueurs Article - Allrecipes.com
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Homemade Liqueurs

With no special equipment required, homemade liqueurs are very easy to make!

At the Base of it All

Most homemade liqueurs start with vodka. This spirit is an ideal base for liqueurs because it's colorless and flavorless, making it the perfect blank canvas.

Try creating some of the most popular liqueur flavors, like coffee, amaretto, and Irish cream--they all rely on vodka for their kick.

Or, you may prefer to infuse the subtle essences of herbs, spices or fruit. Don't be afraid to experiment with rum, tequila, gin, brandy, and whiskey infusions as well.

Whichever alcohol you decide to use as your base, choose a decent-quality brand. There's no need to break the bank for the premium varieties, but avoid the cheapest ones if you want to enjoy your liqueurs straight.

Pick a Flavor

There are two ways to add flavor to liquor:

1. Mix flavored extracts right into liquor.
2. Choose the flavoring ingredients in their raw form and allow them to steep in the alcohol for days or weeks.

Using extracts is the fastest way to make a batch of liqueur, and there are a few cases (e.g. with almond extract), where this is the best way to achieve the flavor you're after. More often than not, though, you will get the best results when you slowly infuse the liquor with fresh ingredients. For example, lemon cordial made with fresh lemon zest will taste much better than something made with lemon extract. Using fresh ingredients also allows you to introduce more variety; you won't be able to find as wide a variety of extracts and essences as you will of fruits and herbs and spices.

Infusing liquor is not an exact science, but more a matter of taste. Infuse each flavor to suit your own preferences and if it ends up tasting too strong, you can always dilute it with additional liquor.

Here are some flavoring ideas:

Fruit: Orange zest, lemon zest, kumquats, cranberries, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, cherries, peaches, tart apples, pineapple, pomegranate seeds, dried apricots, or dried sour cherries. Whole fruit should be sliced and/or mashed to allow the juices to escape and let the liquor come in contact with as much surface area as possible. Leave the skin on for maximum flavor.

Herbs and spices: Vanilla beans, coriander seeds, peppercorns, hot chiles, lemongrass, cinnamon sticks, cloves, nutmeg, whole coffee beans, dill, thyme, basil, tarragon, rosemary, or even garlic. Be sparing with the cloves and nutmeg: too much of these ingredients can produce a numbing effect in your mouth!

Try combining a couple of different flavors in the same batch: how about apple-cinnamon, chile-lemongrass, lemon-tarragon, orange-cranberry, or raspberry-vanilla? Just don't try to pack too many different things into one bottle, or you won't be able to distinguish the flavors.

Give it a Rest

Once you've chosen your alcohol and your flavorings, simply combine them.

  • Put flavorings right into the liquor, or any glass or earthenware jar/bottle with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Keep the container in a dark place and leave it at room temperature. If you don't have a dark cupboard in your house, put the bottles in a paper grocery bag and stir or rotate them a couple of times a day.
  • Depending on how potent your flavorings are, you'll need to let them steep for anywhere from a day to a few weeks. Most fruit needs a full two to four weeks for all the flavor to be transferred to the alcohol, whereas chiles, garlic, and most fresh spices only need a couple of days.

Smell and taste the infusions to decide when each is ready.

Strain Your Resources

If you've used mashed fruit, your infusion is now going to have bits of sediment in the bottom. To get rid of it, simply line a strainer with a coffee filter and slowly pour the liquor through. Don't try to save the fruit that's been soaking in the booze--it won't have any flavor left in it.

Add a Little Sweetness

When sweetening your liqueurs, don't add sugar directly to the alcohol--it will take too long to dissolve and you won't be able to tell right away how sweet it is. Instead, make a simple syrup of two parts sugar to one part water. Combine them in a saucepan and simmer them on the stove until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the syrup cool to room temperature and then sweeten the infusion to taste. Once a liqueur has been sweetened, most of them taste better after they've had a chance to "age" for a month or so. Aging allows the flavors to mellow and blend.

Bottle it Up

Scour local import stores, thrift stores or your own cupboards to find interesting glass bottles (if they don't have tops, you can buy corks at craft stores or winemaking supply shops). Have fun creating your own custom labels and "garnish" each finished bottle by dropping in a small quantity of the original ingredients (a few berries, a twist of citrus zest, an herb sprig, etcetera).

Serving

Most homemade infusions are wonderful when served unadorned, straight out of the freezer. They are also beautiful when mixed into a fresh cup coffee or drizzled over a scoop of good vanilla ice cream,

Any homemade liqueur can be substituted in a traditional cocktail with wonderful results. Make amazing martinis with your infused vodkas, or have fun inventing your own brand new signature drinks!


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Comments
STAN S. 
Oct. 21, 2009 10:44 am
WE HAVE USED THIS BASIC RECIPE FOR ABOUT 10+ YEARS.THE ADDITION OF VEGATABLE GLYCERIN GIVE YOUR LIQUER THE SYRUPY TASTE AND TEXTURE THAT YOU FIND IN COMMERCIAL LIQUERS
 
CozyExplosion 
Nov. 13, 2009 10:33 am
This sounds pretty fun! Where I live now I can get both vodka and fruit at pretty respectable prices, so I think I will indulge my inner alchemist and experiment. Pineapple, plum, maybe watermellon, and who knows what else. Hopefully I have the patience for a sweetening and mellowing period.
 
stalkeyedfly 
Jun. 30, 2011 3:30 pm
We have had great success with mint rum (to make what we call "faux-jitos"), mint bourbon (for juleps) and lavender gin. Anyone have any suggestions for tequila? Or tried cucumber gin?
 
Cristianna 
Aug. 13, 2011 9:22 pm
Does anyone have a good receipe for lavender gin mentioned in the posting above? Can you use either fresh lavender or lavender essential oil?
 
lovin2cook 
Oct. 2, 2011 1:06 pm
I agree Cristianna. I wish the instructions gave more info on using things like lavender. Also wondering where I can find the vegetable glycerin Stan S mentions!
 
mamajo 
Oct. 15, 2011 4:22 pm
most walmart pharmacies carry vegtable gycerin and other pharmices too. u can buy sm. amts. be sure to buy dropper to measure drops. doesn't take alot. i have a dozen different liqueurs i make and im going to try lemoncello soon. happy making!
 
mamajo 
Oct. 15, 2011 4:27 pm
there r sites to go to for specific recipes and instructions. i dont do just a simple syrup and taste. some like kahlua better with some brown sugar. just do search for homemade liqueuers.
 
mamajo 
Oct. 15, 2011 4:39 pm
1 too many e's in liqueurs above. sorry. some require several strainigs too clarify, when nuts and fruits used. keep tightly capped and should not be kept in warm rooms. i've had some a year, flavor still good. my last kuhlua wasnt capped good and molded in six months. i use most of my flavors in cooking, baking mostly.
 
Sandee Lee S. 
Oct. 24, 2011 8:26 am
I have been making Baileys for years and have never tried to make any other kind of liqueurs. I have not heard of vegetable glycerin either. I am excited about trying new things and experiment with new flavors. I have always bought them for the dishes that required it. I thank all of you for sharing so people like me can get new ideas.
 
Oct. 31, 2011 4:00 pm
I always thought the.longer you let it steep the better. Im trying to make my own vanilla extract and hope im not doing it wrong!
 
Luv43t 
Jan. 23, 2012 5:35 pm
While i was in Tulum, Mexico I got a chance to taste tequila infused with coffee and another with cherries. I didn't care for the coffee flavored one but LOVED the cherry. I think I want to make a strawberry and vanilla bean vodka for my family to open when I give birth in June (well that is the plan anyway)
 
Mary 
Jan. 28, 2012 8:47 pm
I make Bermuda sherry peppers by using sherry and stuffing existing sherry bottle with alot of dried hot peppers and let it steep for a month or so. Wonderful in soups or whatever needs a kick. Been doing this for 20 years.
 
Sue 
May 21, 2012 7:38 pm
I am looking for a recipe to make Cherry Chocolate Cordial/Liqueur
 
Carolyn 
Sep. 29, 2012 3:56 am
I too have tasted cherry tequila in Tulum, and as Luv43t says it is delicious! I will be attempting to make some for Christmas.
 
Jan. 23, 2013 10:12 am
I am looking for a recipe that includes chablis & brandy + fresh or dried fruits. Not a big fan of distilled spirits.
 
cookpokolik 
May 24, 2013 5:25 pm
I made a kind of amaretto with rehydrated apricots, apricot kernels, almonds, vanilla and several other spices. I also thought the strained out solids might be tasteless. But I tried and made a jam with them and what turned out was one of the best I ever had, certainly the punchiest with no alcohol but all the taste of the grappa and the rum, and the fruit and spices. So two recipes in one.
 
Janene C. 
Jul. 20, 2014 10:47 pm
For Christmas gifts, I made Kailua one year, limoncello one year, and homemade vanilla extract one year. (And yes,with the extract, the longer you seep, the better.) This year I want to make berry infused liquor. Can anyone suggest how many drops of glycerin is used? It's added only for the syrup-y consistency, right; not flavor? Thanks!
 
Aug. 22, 2014 12:51 pm
actually, I use this recipe to make my kahlua. However, I do buy RAW SUGAR in the BULK food section to make my syrup, and I ALWAYS get a nice thick liqueur just like a store bought one.
 
Aug. 22, 2014 12:51 pm
today I am making peach liquor and plum liquor, fingers crossed.
 
drdale 
Oct. 12, 2014 4:22 pm
I have been making passionfruit liqueur for a couple years. It takes forever to settle. The pulp is very mucusy and defies defies filtering. Plugs up any kind of filter material. Any clarifies that might work, or any suggestions?
 
 
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