You can’t walk down the booze aisle at the supermarket without seeing all the flavoured alcohols that currently grace the shelves. The trend has well and truly saturated the market. However, alcohol infusions have been a big part of my family for generations. From granny Maria’s elderflower brandy cure-all to my dad’s homemade sloe gin which always makes an appearance at parties. They are easily made in large batches and can be distilled into whatever sized bottles or jars you may already have hanging around to create thoughtful, personal and very yummy gifts to hand out over the holiday season. Or to drink yourself. We’re not judging.
Here are some of my Christmas favourites to share with your loved ones.
A deliciously seasonal twist on an Italian digestif classic, limoncello. This does take a good 10 days to develop in flavour so if you fancy it in time for Christmas, put it together ASAP. You can use any mix of citrus you wish as they all work well, however, clementines are my favourites. Pick fruit with thicker skins if you can (as opposed to the easy-peeling varieties) as you will only be using the zest.
2 large lemons
1L decent vodka
300 to 500 mL of simple syrup
- Zest your citrus fruit and add to a large jar. Try to avoid the white pith as this can add bitterness to the final product.
- Pour over the vodka, give it a good stir, seal the jar and set aside to steep. I have made this in 4 days before when I was in a rush but I find 7-10 days a perfect amount of time to get a good citrus flavour into your merry-cello.
- Once the steeping time is done, add some simple syrup. This can be store-bought or homemade. I like mine on the sweeter side but feel free to adjust the amount to suit your taste buds.
- Strain and decant into bottles. Serve ice cold.
There are so many flavoured gins available at the moment, but this homemade one inspired by the flavours of our autumn crumble recipe is particularly moreish.
4 large apples, cored and sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
- Simply add all the ingredients in a large sterilised jar.
- Top up with the gin. Vodka also works well in this recipe.
- Let steep for 5-7 days. Feel free to taste along the way!
- Strain through a cheesecloth and decant into bottles or jars.
Note that you can also sweeten this mixture with some simple syrup if you so wish.
This brandy infusion, that also works nicely with whisky or bourbon, brings a nice twist to the traditional flavours of the ubiquitous cranberry sauce.
300g fresh cranberries
1 large orange
2 cinnamon sticks
150mL simple syrup
- I like to prick the cranberries with a skewer as I feel like this helps release the flavour. You could also use frozen berries. Simply thaw them out slightly and they work just as well.
- Slice the orange and add to a clean jar. Add the cinnamon and cover with your alcohol of choice.
- Leave to steep for 3 to 5 days. I found when I left this mixture for too long, it ended up being a bit too taut and slightly bitter.
- Sweeten to taste with simple syrup then strain and decant.