How am I going to top last year’s holidays (wherein I was proclaimed the queen of sides, and made this, this, and this)? I think I may have the answer: homemade booze-infused garnishes and tipples to lower the inhibitions of my guests—many of whom are disciplined calorie-counters the rest of the year—so they go for one-too-many helpings. Evil plan or best hostess ever?
For inspiration, we turned to our favorite bloggers—and found seven spirited concoctions, made with fruits, seeds, and sometimes kitchen scraps. All you do is add alcohol and then wait for the deliciousness to steep:
Above: Apple Peel Bourbon via Food 52.
Marian Bull of Food 52 has an inventive way to up-cycle apple peels. Throw them in with cloves and a cinnamon stick, and add bourbon. It’s a festive drink on its own, or mix it with some ginger beer and lime for a holiday cocktail.
Above: Roots, barks, dried fruits, and spices for homemade bitters. Photograph via Adventures in Cooking.
The new wave of cocktails and punches calls for cavalier dashes of old-fashioned kinds of bitters, from orange to angostura. Does your liquor stash fall short? Eva from Adventures in Cooking shows you how to extract and make your own bitters.
Above: Lemons and sugar, the main ingredients for Limoncello. Photograph via NPR.
Like the aloha of beverages, limoncello is both an aperitif and digestif. I suggest saving its bright palate-cleansing tang to finish off your turkey feast and guarantee no one leaves thirsty or too stuffed.
Above: Butternut squash five-spice liqueur via Kitchen Konfidence.
No seasonal ingredient, including the humble squash, is safe from being turned into a spirit by innovative food explorer Brandon Matzek of Kitchen Konfidence. His butternut-infused vodka is spiced with cinnamon, clover, anise, black pepper, and fennel seed.
Is there a more wintry libration than a vodka tonic flavored with rosemary? It’s like drinking the mountain dew of a pine forest. Designers Alabama Chanin takes a break from knitting sweaters to show us how to make this easy infusion.
Above: Homemade vanilla extract from Tasty Yummies.
Not an alcoholic beverage per se, but vanilla extract, a staple of holiday baking, is one of the simplest things to make. It’s also an excuse to use your bottom-shelf vodka. Beth at Tasty Yummies says “Cheaper is better,” adding that a pricier spirit, with its artisanal notes, can interfere with the vanilla flavor. She also provides labels you can print, so guess what the neighbors are getting this year?
Above: Brandy-soaked cherries via Miss Foodwise.
Drunken cherries are the fruit that keeps on giving. They take a week to be preserved, and then get boozier and boozier the longer they’re in the bourbon solution. Regula of Miss Foodwise has a jar that dates to 1999.