Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Bitter End of 2016

Every year around the holidays, I make a batch or two of some kind of liqueur to give as presents, and occasionally throw last year's batch up for grabs after a year of aging. This year, there are three. 

Last year's chamomile liqueur aged gracefully, and is now akin to a fruity, potent sauterne with the sedative power of a Benadryl. While I still prefer it made with Steve McCarthy's Clear Creek Williams Pear Brandy as I've done in the past, The Fidelitas Obstler Pear and Apple Eau de Vie held up well and developed with time. 

One of my favorites is still in testing. A classic Amaro heavy on the gentian and wormwood, with galangal, iris root, and angelica. The base infusion is flavored with dried seville orange peels, but I felt it needed a darker fruit for the base syrup. At THIS point, I'm heading toward black cherry, although I recently discovered a source of frozen red currants. Maybe both?

And finally, my classic Earl Grey Liqueur. I've made this one since 1999 every few years, and is an important ingredient in my Earl Grey martinis. It's based on a product that Twinings tried to market here in the US back in the eighties that I fell in love with and have never forgotten. Usually, I use blood orange peels, but this year's will be brighter using tangerines. And of course, I only use Twinings, infused into california brandy, with orange blossom honey, citrus peels, and sugar. Tea strength is determined by a classic British tea service. 

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