14 December 2010

1st Day Of Christmas

Yay!! I can finally start posting all my fun 12 days of christmas posts. Now, I can't afford to make gifts for a ton of people- pretty much just my immediate family, in fact. Regardless, I'm going to have to post disclaimers at the beginnings of some of these posts so that some people don't accidentally read them and find out what they're getting from me haha. So... mom, dad, sis, don't read this until after christmas!
Alright, let's get to it! One of the first things I decided to make this year is infused vodka. Originally I was going to make a whole bunch and give little bottles to all my friends and family, but I'm not made of money so I decided that just my immediate family and one or two close friends will be receiving these.
Aren't they pretty? By the way, please excuse the crappy photo quality in this and the next few posts. Like I mentioned a few days ago, I left my nikon d40 charger in prescott over thanksgiving, so I've had to resort to using stewie's little coolpix. needless to say, they aren't exactly equals when it comes to photography. please bear with me :)

Anyways, I wanted to make two different types of infused vodka. I knew I wanted to use rosemary in one of them, because there are giant bushes of rosemary growing outside one of the buildings on the U of A campus and it seems like a damn shame not to use some of it for culinary purposes.

I decided lemon would be a nice compliment to the rosemary flavor. When I started brainstorming about the second infusion, I knew I wanted it to be very christmasy/wintery/holiday-y. So, I decided to use cranberries, apples, cinnamon, and cloves. Kind of like a mulled cran-apple cider!

I started with plain old 10-dollar plastic handle vodka. I had about 1.5 handles. Now, I didn't want to give my friends and family crap vodka but I didn't have the money to buy something more refined. However, I saw on a Good Eats episode once that Crappy Vodka, when filtered with a run-of-the-mill charcoal water filter, becomes Good Vodka. Hooray! So, I just strained the vodka through my water filter a couple times and it did the trick. I mean, the taste didn't make me want to kill myself so I assume it did the trick. Obviously I threw out the filter after that. No vodka-flavored water for me, thanks!

I kept the vodka in the filter until I was ready to use it. For the first infusion, I used about 4 or 5 sprigs of rosemary and the peel of one lemon. I cut the yellow peel away from the lemon (rather than zesting it) and tried to get as little white pith as possible. I also added the juice of half of the peeled lemon and about 2 tbsp white sugar. I put all of those things in one of the empty plastic handles (I rinsed it out with very hot water first- that's why there is whitish condensation obscuring the view in the next few pictures)

Then, I filled it up with half the vodka- it came to about 3/4 of the way up. I put the lid on tight and shook the handle until all the sugar was dissolved.
For the second infusion, I used one pink lady apple (cored and thinly sliced) and about 1/2 cup cranberries, a slit cut in each one to release flavor. I also added two whole cinnamon sticks and about 5 or 6 whole cloves. Finally, I added about 1/3 cup white sugar- the sugar isn't to make the vodka sweet like a liqueur, more to just bring out the flavors. I repeated the process of filling with vodka and shaking.

I let the vodka sit for five days at room temperature, shaking up each handle a few times every day. I taste tested on the third day and check to flavors and then again on the fifth day before I decided to strain.

In preparation, I set out a large bowl (large enough to contain all the vodka), a mesh strainer, paper towels (coffee filters would work to), a measuring cut with a pour spout, and 8 2.5 oz bottles (cleaned beforehand with soap and hot water).
By this time, both vodkas had changed color. The lemon-rosemary was a nice, pale yellow and the cran-apple spice was a pretty shade of orangish-red. I had already strained the lemon-rosemary vodka when I took this picture, but you can get an idea of how both vodkas looked after sitting for five days:
To strain, I lined the mesh strainer with a paper towel and positioned it over the bowl. I poured the vodka into the strainer slowly, allowing it to filter through into the bowl. I then used a measuring cup with a spout to scoop up the vodka and pour it into bottles.

After everything was strained, I was left with 8 bottles of pretty, lightly colored, wonderfully scented/flavored and perfectly clear liquid.

I decided to decorate each bottle with a navy blue ribbon and a little recipe card for a cocktail that could be made with each type of vodka. Obviously I had to actually test the recipes I had come up with to make sure that they were worth making- and I'm glad I did! I think I came up with some really awesome holiday drinks.

The first recipe is for a Lemon-Rosemary Fizz. It reminded Stewie and I of a mojito- only lemon takes the place of the lime and rosemary takes the place of the mint! It's very simple, very refreshing, and very good. Here's the recipe:

1 oz lemon-rosemary vodka (I used one full shot glass to measure)
3 oz sparkling water
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp honey, agave nectar, or simple syrup (I used honey- delicious)

Combine in a cocktail shaker with ice and STIR, do not shake (shaking with cause the sparkling water to build up gas and the cocktail shaker will explode on you. Trust me). Strain into a glass and garnish with rosemary or lemon zest, if desired.

The second recipe is a cran-apple spice martini. This one was my favorite (stew liked the fizz better I think). It tastes just like how the holidays ought to! Delicious, sweet, slightly tart, and full of warm spices. Here is the recipe:

1 oz cran-apple spice vodka
2 oz apple juice
juice from half an orange

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake and then strain into a glass. Garnish with cranberries if desired.

yum yum yum! Well there you have it: cheap, delicious, and easy infused vodka. It's such a great gift! And, I posted it early so that there is still time to make it for holiday presents this year ;)

Happy first day of [blogger] christmas!


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