So you want to know how to make liqueur? What about how to make schnapps, or maybe even cordial? Well the last two depend on your definition of the word and what you "really" mean, but I can teach you how to make liqueur, a sweet flavored infusion of alcohol, because it is easy! Many of the home made liqueurs you will find are what people would refer to as a cordial or schnapps, it just depends on how you define it. See my page on What is liqueur?
What you need to make Liqueur:
- Base alcohol, vodka, rum, cognac, brandy, depends on recipe
- Ingredients and flavorings, any combo of spice, fruit, veggie
- 2 x large (750ml) bottles or jars
- Various size funnels for kitchen use
- Filtering material, paper towels, coffee filters, nylon mesh
How to make Liqueur:
STEP 1. Infuse ingredients or flavorings
-Prepare all ingredients to be infused
At this point you need to cut, smash, quarter, pulpify, or wash your various ingredients. Be sure that everything is clean, fresh and ready to go into the alcohol. You are preparing everything except your sweetener because you typically don't add it at this stage in the process.
-Place into sealed container with alcohol
You will need a dark undisturbed area to keep your steeping liqueur. Place all of your ingredients into your base alcohol and seal the container. Now put it in your dark place.
-Let steep for X time
As with most of the steps, this depends on the recipe. You will typically see two to four weeks as the steeping time, but you can vary this at will to make the taste stronger or lighter. You may need to taste test the steeping liquid and move onto straining and filtering when the taste seems right. This part of the process can definitely be an art.
STEP 2. Strain and Filter your flavored alcohol
-Prepare containers and filters
Now you have an infused vodka or base alcohol. You need to get your containers set up that you will be transferring your concoction into.
-Three stage filtration
Starting with the most loose or rough filter. Pour the infused alcohol slowly through the filter into one of your containers. If you have large chunks of fruit or other matter, you may need to wrap them in your straining material and squeeze. Then do the same but with the medium filter and finally the finest filter.
At any time during straining and filtering, if the material clogs up quickly you will probably need to perform that filter stage twice or more.
If you decide you like the flavor without sweetening it. Then by all means move on to Aging and skip the sweetening step. (of course then it is not really a Liqueur, but still could be tasty)
STEP 3. Add sweetener (honey, sugar, syrup, etc)
-This is really what makes it a Liqueur and not just infused vodka or alcohol
A huge part of the flavor profile is SWEET. That means whatever you decide to sweeten the liqueur with will be maybe the biggest component of flavor. You can change that depending on how much sweet you add. Whatever you choose try to compliment the other flavors involved.
-Add in your sweet stuff
Adding a sweetening agent could be as simple as pouring in a cup of honey. Or you may need to boil sugar in water to make a simple syrup. Generally follow the recipe. However I feel that plain refined sugar lacks a lot of flavor. Honey seems to work better in many cases. Be aware that there are several varieties of honey.
STEP 4. Age your Liqueur
-Place into another sealed container
Now that you have added sweet into your infused alcohol, you can drink your delicious beverage or age it to let flavors mingle. This is where many home liqueuer makers will place the sweetened liqueur into a bottle and cork it or seal it air tight. Again find a dark undisturbed place to keep your Liqueur. Keep it out of sight as well, as you don't want to be tempted to open it before it is ready. I say that , but when you first start doing this, it is a good idea to taste your Liqueurs often to see how the flavor changes as they age.
-Age for X time based on recipe
For almost every recipe you will want at least a few weeks of aging. Some recipes will tell you to just drink it now, but most get better with time. Be wary that at some point, months or years away the flavor may start to turn. However it should never become harmful if the alcohol content is high enough, which it always is in a true Liqueur.
I made my first Liqueur! What now!?
Now you enjoy it! Be sure to read How to drink Liqueur. Did it come out good? Bad? Try it again, vary the recipe, add new ingredients!
If it tasted to simple and plain, then add more ingredients to create more complex flavor, or use a fresher ingredient. Remember even with something like a Lime, there is a variety of limes out there. You may have to search around your grocery stores and shops to find the good stuff. Create something that has not been done before!
Make sure to let me know what you created, whether it was good or not. I'll feature your creation on my site and maybe try it myself! (or you can send me a sample of yours