Have someone on your holiday list that is obnoxiously hard to shop for? We all do. Why not have fun making that person something instead? It shows that you tried and you might learn valuable skills to use later. Plus, if you’re talking about an adult, chances are that they like booze and you’re lucky because it’s super duper easy to infuse liquors into some awesome custom creations that make it look like you really went the extra mile for minimal effort invested. This season, I decided to gift three distinctly awesome liquors to family members.
For my uncle, I made a whiskey sour whiskey using a touch of honey, and the zest of 2 lemons. He’s Canadian so using what would normally be an inexcusably cheap Canadian whiskey totally worked for his gift and I was out under $10 for that part of his gift (I also got him something else). He loves whiskey sours and now he can have a shot of them instead of a pitcher of them.
My brother in law loves cheap vodka (I’m not kidding, I got him the Taaka he *asked* for) and licorice so naturally tossing some star anise in a cheap handle of Taaka was a simple solution and came in under $15 everything included.
Then there’s my middle sister. I decided to go for the gusto because she wasn’t being helpful AT ALL on her gift list, so I made her chocolate covered strawberry vodka. Yes, you read that correctly, and it came out PERFECT and I will tell you all about it in a sec complete with pics to get it right. I splurged a little on her, but still came out under $20 and made the most fabulous gift to vodka ever out of it. Seriously, hit up this recipe for V-Day, it’s a real keeper.
For starters, let’s discuss a little about infusing booze, I don’t have to write a huge dissertation here because this other person has done it for me and I totally used their advice and it worked perfectly, so check out this guide from Northwest Edible Life. The only additional note I would make is that you can totally buy mid-range spirits for this because you are going to make it taste better by adding the flavor.
Whiskey Sour Cheap Canadian Whiskey
1 750mL bottle cheap whiskey
1-2 TBS Honey
1) Use a lemon zester to zest both of your lemons entirely.
2) Drop that in your whiskey.
3) Shake your bottle for 30ish seconds twice a day for 3-4 days.
4) Filter your whiskey to remove the leftover lemon bits.
5) Sweeten with Honey to taste.
1 handle of cheap vodka
1 bottle of star anise
1) Pry the sifter lid off the vodka.
2) Drop your anise into the bottle directly.
3) Shake gently for 30ish seconds twice a day for 3-4 days.
4) You can remove the anise if you want because it will keep adding licorice flavor, or don’t because it looks cool.
Pro Tip: The only complication with this one is knowing how much anise to use, I used a bottle worth and it was VERY anise-y after 4 days. Most people would not have enjoyed the licorice levels. My brother in law loves licorice so I left them in the full time. He was fine with it. If your person only kinda likes licorice, use 1/4-1/2 a bottle of anise and/or a shorter infusion time. You can literally get a decent licorice flavor after 1 day.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Vodka
1 750mL bottle of vodka
1 bag 6oz cocoa nibs (unsweetened)
1 bag frozen strawberries
1) Put the cocoa nibs in a sealed container, and pour your vodka over the top. It’s going to look kinda dusty and gross, but that is entirely OK. (see pic below)
2) Allow your cocoa vodka to take on the chocolate flavor for a day. Stir it around for 30 seconds, once in the morning, once later in the day. It will still look gross, that’s totally what you want.
3) On day 2, add your bag of frozen strawberries and stir them in. At this point the mixture will look really quite disturbing, but persevere, this stuff will be awesome at the end. For the next 2 days you are going to keep stirring it for 30 seconds a day once in the morning and once in the evening. The fruit will start to look disgusting and zombified, it’s OK, it’s in alcohol and won’t go bad. 4) See that bottle of stuff that looks like a liquified version of the necronomicon? That’s your vodka and it is still fine. Remember that we are now on day 3. You’re going to have to taste the vodka to see if you want to let it steep for a day 4 or not. If the flavor is good, go ahead and filter it now. If not, give it one more day.
5) Now you’re ready to filter your vodka. Grab another 750mL bottle (not your vodka bottle) to filter into. Sit it in your sink, pop a plastic funnel in the opening, and add your filters. Just take 2 coffee filters, fold them up into the funnel, and pour in your vodka. This process is going to be painfully slow. The chocolate is going to clog your filters. You will have to change them often. Just pour a little in, and let it drip through until you see it is no longer dripping, then change filters. For my 750mL bottle this took all night. It’s OK because it’s still totally worth it, check out what the end result looks like below.6) It’s soooo pretty, right? Now that you know you don’t accidentally have any chocolate or chunks in your bottle, pour it in the original vodka bottle. (If you do have sediment or chunks in your bottle, just do the funnel and filter into the vodka bottle). 7) Perfect. Isn’t that glorious? Look at the color, and it tastes like both chocolate and strawberries. You’re amazing.
Pro Tip: I used Starlight Vodka because it had an attractive package, good ratings, was cheap, and as a bonus was local to Texas. It worked out very well. I’m not saying you have to use it, but it’s a tried and true choice.