So far, we’ve been assuming that you have access to a decently stocked store that carries the supplies that are needed to make your drinks. What if you don’t have that access, or you want to take your geekdom to the next level, and DIY? That’s what we’ll be talking about today.
We’ve already gone through making simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water), and quite a few syrups are simply that infused with some flavoring. I usually find simmering the flavoring ingredient for about 10 minutes, and letting it cool while the flavoring agent is still in there is enough to get a good flavor (if you do this with ginger, definitely save the candied ginger, it’s delicious). Now, there is an ingredient that we’ll be leaning on quite a bit when I talk about Tiki: orgeat. It’s an almond and orange flower water syrup. Since we’re using nuts, it’ll take a bit longer for those to infuse their flavor. On to the steps:
- 2 cups nuts. Almonds are traditional, but any nut will work. If you want to increase the depth of flavor, roast them as well.
- 1 ½ cups of sugar
- 1 ¼ cups of water
- ½ teaspoon of floral water. Orange blossom is the traditional, but different ones will produce different flavors.
- 1 oz high proof neutral spirit (preservative, and optional)
Start by grinding up your nuts. In a pot over low/medium heat, add the sugar and water and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring it up to a boil for a couple of minutes, then add in the ground nuts. Lower the head, and simmer that for another couple of minutes. Cover with a lid, remove from the heat, and let the nuts steep in the syrup for 3-8 hours. Run the syrup through a strainer to get the nut chunks out, and put it in a clean bottle. Add in the floral water of your choice, and the spirit if you’re using it. Stir or shake to combine, and make yourself a cocktail. You’ve earned it.
Next, as long as you’ve got strong spirits and access to herbs and spices, you can make some Bitters. The process is very simple as long as you have time. You’re going to take your herbs, flavorings, and liquor and put them in a clean jar. Then let the herbs and flavorings steep for a couple weeks while shaking/mixing it daily. This will extract all of the alcohol soluble compounds. Reserve the (now flavored) liquor and strain out the solids (herbs and flavorings), and put the solids in a pot with enough water to cover it. You’re going to bring up the water covered solids up to a simmer, hold for 5-10 minutes, then put that into another jar. Let that sit for a week, shaking/mixing it daily. After that, you mix the flavored alcohol and water and strain it until you’re happy with the clarity. If need be, you can add some sweetener at this point to help make it palatable. Go ahead and shift it to small bottles with droppers and let it sit for a couple more days to fully combine. If you want a suggestion to start with:
- Peels from 6 medium to large apples
- Zest of half a lemon, cut into strips
- 2 Cinnamon sticks
- ½ tsp Allspice berries
- ¼ tsp Coriander
- ½ tsp Cassia (most bulk cinnamon if you were unaware) chips
- ½ tsp Chinchona bark (where quinine comes from)
- 4 Cloves
- 2 cups spirit
- 1 cup water
- Sweetener to taste (~2 tsp)
Last, but not least, we’ll talk about Grenadine. It’s a sweet red syrup that you should know is based on pomegranate. It’s a simple recipe, and can provide a guideline for many other flavored syrups. Take an equal amount of pomegranate juice and sugar, add it to a pot, and slowly heat it until the sugar is melted. You’ll need to stir it often to prevent the sugar from burning. Let it cool, then you can toss in a couple dashes of a floral water to brighten it up.
That’s it for this week, next time we’ll be doing a quick run through of the historic eras of cocktails.