Every year I always try to make up an infusion or two for the holiday season. Last year it was a lovely bottle of sloe gin, and this year I’m doing a couple of different ones: gingerbread liqueur or schnapps, and a figgy pudding vodka.
Since I’m making two separate infusions this time, I wanted to have some contrast between the flavours and to make the gingerbread-flavoured drink fairly light and zingy. Have to admit to winging it here and guessing the best ingredients to include – this is the initial recipe, and I’ll keep you updated as to how it turns out. Once it’s ready I’m hoping to serve it in boozy after-dinner coffee, poured over ice cream, or mixed with sparkling wine to make a festive cocktail.
Here’s the basic recipe:
- 700ml half-decent vodka (don’t use the super expensive ones)
- 150g crystallised ginger, chopped (the stuff with the sugar granules on it)
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (not essence)
- 75g soft brown sugar
Chuck it all in a big airtight jar, shake to mix, then leave it in a cupboard or other cool, dark place for up to a week*. Shake well twice daily. Strain thoroughly and return to the sterilised bottle. Leave for as long as you can to mature, ideally 8 weeks or more.
I haven’t added much sugar to the recipe because the ginger has already been sweetened. You can always add more sugar later if needed, but you can’t take it out if you’ve added too much in the first place.
If you’re in a tearing hurry (last minute gift etc), put the vodka, sugar and ginger in a blender before adding to the other ingredients, then leave to stand for 2 days instead. Strain twice to remove sediment before bottling.
To create a more complex flavour, you could add a clove or a pinch of mixed spice. A vanilla pod can also be used instead of the extract, but remember it will probably make the final colour of the drink a lot darker. Complexity could also be increased by leaving out 25g of the sugar, and replacing with 25g of treacle or honey.
After 24 hours of infusing, it’s already starting to taste pretty good. Next up, the figgy pudding vodka…
*EDITED TO ADD: I checked the flavour of the infusion every day, and found that four days was long enough to get the right level of intensity. It’s now strained and bottled, and maturing in a cupboard. I have added the optional 1 clove, plus 25g of honey to make the flavour just how I want it.
I’m going to be mixing some of this infusion up with condensed milk, single cream and perhaps a splash of coffee, and serving it over lots of ice, topped with a little freshly grated nutmeg and powdered cinnamon. The gingerbread cream liqueur mix will keep for over a week if you make it up in a bottle and keep it tightly capped in the fridge. All you have to do is give it a good shake before pouring over the ice.
Are you making any flavoured drinks in the run-up to Christmas?