I find that homemade liqueurs open up a wide variety of flavors that would not otherwise be available: sloe gin, bacon vodka, quince rum, strawberry vodka (still glowing pink in the back corner of my freezer, by the way). Homemade variations of favorite flavors, like coffee-chocolate liqueur, make for a novel dinner table conversation when you break them out with pride of place, taste fresher and less processed than the kind you buy, and cost a lot less.
Plus, it's fun.
Who doesn't like to have fun, especially when booze is involved?
For all those reasons, plus having a pile of exotic citrus that needed using up in a bad way, I decided to try some variations on limoncello. This popular Italian drink is made from lemon zest, but there are other fruit variations, such as blood orange, that sounded quite intriguing.
What they all have in common is this: you zest the lemons, discard the fruit, and make a syrup of sugar and water.
Now, I want a liqueur that has loads of fruit flavor, and a hearty kick to it.
I was thinking about my wants, and all these recipes, and I said to myself:
'Self, why are we going to waste all that fruit juice?'
Myself said 'Dunno.' Very articulate, she is.
'Self, isn't that where we can find loads of fruit flavor?'
'And Self, why would we then dilute the alcohol with water?'
At which point, Self got a little peeved and belted out:
'Why do you keep asking me all these stupid questions when you already seem to know the answer, aye?'
And Self was right, I did have an answer. And that answer is so simple, so obvious.
Use the fruit juice, Luke.
So I did.
Zest, juice, sugar, booze.
A holistic liqueur experience, two snazzy citrus flavors.
4 sweet limes or 4 blood oranges
For each flavor you make:
2 cups vodka, not best quality
1 cup white granulated sugar
juice from the citrus
You will also need a fine microplane, a strainer, and a large mason jar or other storage jar for each liqueur.
Choose sweet lime or blood orange. Use the microplane to zest the citrus very gently. You want no white pith, only colored zest. I find that one delicate downward drag on each section of citrus, without re-zesting any area, accomplishes this nicely.
I got about 1/3 of a cup of zest from 4 sweet limes and about the same from 4 small blood oranges.
Put the zest from the lime or the orange into a mason jar.
Now, juice the citrus. I got about 2/3 cup from the sweet limes and 3/4 cup from the blood oranges.
Strain the juice and pour into the mason jar with the zest.
Add the 2 cups vodka and 1 cup sugar.
Shake well, and then shake every day for a week. After that, shake once a week for at least 3 or 4 more weeks, or up to 6, if you can stand to wait that long.
Before serving, strain the liqueur through as fine a strainer as possible, or through a coffee filter.
Store in the freezer if you want, but it should keep in a cool, dark place for up to a year.
Serve very cold.