In Louisiana, the revelry doesn’t stop at New Year’s. We’re now into the Carnival season and counting down to Mardi Gras, time to start thinking about fun cocktails to serve. How about incorporating infused flavors such as pumpkin spice, blue lavender and brown sugar pecan, all great ideas derived from “Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits” by Andrew Schloss. The book is chock full of wonderful recipes — 159 flavors, 80 cocktails and several simple syrups — with easy instruction on how to create and present them. To give you an idea of the process, the apple spice hooch recipe calls for mixing bourbon, apples, maple syrup and spices together to sit for a week in a cool, dark place. Once strained, the liqueur is ready to be enjoyed, tasting like an apple pie.
Here’s a recipe for Herb-Santé, what the author calls “another anise-flavored absinthe knock-off” that’s similar to the New Orleans herbsaint. And if you want to view a video explaining how to create Caramel Candy Liqueur from the book, not to mention a great primer on making simple syrup, click here.
From “Homemade Liqueurs and Infused Spirits”
1 cup vodka (80-100 proof)
2 cups dry vermouth (18 percent ABV)
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup anise seeds, crushed
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 cup simple syrup (recipe in book)
Directions: Combine the vodka, vermouth, parsley, anise seeds, basil, tarragon and rosemary in a half-gallon jar. Stir to moisten everything. Seal the jar and put it in a cool, dark cabinet until the liquid smells and tastes strongly of herbs, 3-5 days. Strain the mixture with a mesh strainer into a clean quart jar. Do not push on the solids to extract more liquid. Stir in the simple syrup. Seal and store in a cool, dark cabinet. Use within 1 year.
Cheré Coen is a Lafayette freelance travel and food writer. She is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Tour of Historic Acadiana,” both from The History Press.