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Making My Own Liqueur

September 30, 2012

Orange rinds and lemon zest steeping to make liqueurA couple of weeks ago I was looking around for some new drinks to try when I came across the interesting fact that there exist drinks named for each of the five boroughs of New York City. I figured that making a post that features all five drinks would be an interesting thing to do for the blog, so I set about preparing to do that. Then, I realized that the recipe for the Brooklyn calls for Amer Picon. Damn.

There are some drinks that I just cannot get my hands on. Crème de Rose is a liquor made with rose petals, one that it seems you can’t get in the US or Canada. You can definitely get it in France, and I even found a liquor store in Australia that has it, but I can’t seem to get it here. Amer Picon is even worse. It’s sold almost exclusively in France, so drinks like the Brooklyn or Picon Punch are just about impossible to make now. Or so I thought, but, there is always a way around such obstacles. One option would be to wait until my father is passing through France on business and see if he could grab a bottle for me. This could work, but it could be awhile until he returns to France, and there’s no guarantee that he’d be able to find the spirit, or have time to run such an errand. Plus, the liqueur currently sold under the name Amer Picon is different from the formulation originally used in these drinks; its formula has changed a couple of times over the years.

Dried orange rinds steeping in Everclear

Luckily, the internet exists. And on the internet are a large number of resourceful and creative individuals, like Jamie Boudreau at his excellent blog He has created his own version of Amer, which he calls Amer Boudreau, that is supposed to taste almost identical to the original Amer Picon formula. It calls for Amaro Ramazzotti, an Italian bitter which I can get at a local liquor store, orange tincture made from dried orange rinds and high-proof vodka, and Stirrings Blood Orange Bitters. I cannot find the bitters anywhere local, but I know that a liquor store near where my mother lives in the States carries it, so it is not too much of a problem for me to obtain it without much difficulty or expense. Sure, I’ll have to wait a couple of months for the next convenient opportunity, but that gives me plenty of time for my orange tincture to steep. I can only hope that I like the finished concoction, as none of the ingredients that I can get up here are very cheap.

Of course I’m not just going to make some Amer Boudreau; there are many different liqueurs and bitters that I want to try making. Originally I was going to try making bacon vodka with the other half of the bottle of Everclear, but I found a bottle of Bakon Vodka at the same liquor store that I bought my Everclear at, so that would just be a waste. Limoncello was the next obvious choice, and it’s been one that I’ve been meaning to make for awhile. All of the recipes online are very simple (see here and here), usually just consisting of vodka, lemon zest, sugar, and water. Perhaps in future batches I might try something more complex, and add in a few spices or other citrus zests, but it makes sense to keep things simple for my first attempt. I simply zested eight lemons with my Microplane (originally a woodworking tool, but essential for zesting fruits or grating Parmesan) and put it into a half-bottle of Everclear. In a few weeks I’ll prepare the rest of the mixture.

In my Mai Tai post I mentioned that if I were to try Don the Beachcomber’s Mai Tai, that I would first need to get some Pastis and falernum syrup. Pastis is easy to get, and I plan on getting some soon, but I’m not sure where I could get falernum syrup here in Calgary. I suppose that I could probably find it if I looked hard enough, but it sounds much more fun to make it myself! There are a huge number of recipes for falernum online (see here and here), so the first step will be picking one. I’ll probably put up a combined Falernum/Beachcomber Mai Tai post once I’ve finished mixing up the falernum syrup, so expect that within a couple of months.

Making my own liquors is going to let me create drinks that I’d have little opportunity to try otherwise. Some liquors are just not available here, and some are just too expensive. Even some basic bitters are hard to find here, giving me lots of incentive to try making my own. But the most exciting thing about this is that I can make drinks that are completely unique, and I can adjust them infinitely to match my tastes. It just seems that making your own liquors is the obvious and natural extension of mixing your own cocktails.


From → Drink Related

  1. Nolan permalink

    Awesome, a new blog to follow. My days will now be slightly less productive.

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