First of all, when in the f*#% did December happen? Didn’t there used to be a few extra weeks in between Thanksgiving and December? Second, that means it’s time for holiday type stuff, specifically, booze-related holiday stuff. This recipe for homemade cranberry liqueur makes a nifty addition to your seasonal cocktails, as well as a unique gift for your drink-loving friends and family. It’s simple to make and keeps up to a year or more. I just found some left over from last year that I had stored in a mason jar in the pantry; after filtering it again (it had a little sediment after resting for so long) it retained its flavor nicely.
2 cups white sugar
1 cup water, preferably filtered
3 cups fresh cranberries
3 cups vodka* (I used Kirkland brand, from Costco)
1 tsp cardamom pods, cracked
1 tsp coarsely chopped ginger
Tools: mason jar, strainer, cheesecloth, blender/food processor
In a sauce pan, make a simple syrup with the sugar and water. Set aside. Place the cranberries in a blender with ¼ to ½ cup of vodka and process until the cranberries are chopped. Add the cranberry mixture to the simple syrup in its final stages of cooling. Make sure the syrup is not hot, just still lightly warm. When the mixture has completely cooled, add the rest of the vodka and transfer the mixture to a sterile mason jar. Store in a cool, dark place for about 10 days, shaking every few days. Add the ginger and cardamom, and allow to infuse for another 5-7 days. Strain out the solids through a mesh strainer, then strain again through a layer of cheese cloth. If you’re giving the liqueur as a gift, I recommend filtering a third time though a coffee filter. Store the cranberry liqueur in a cool dark place, or in the refrigerator.
*Vodka selection can be more important than you think—you don’t want to shell out money on a top shelf vodka, but don’t use a super cheap-o brand either (for example, Smirnoff is extremely abrasive). I recommend Costco’s Kirkland brand vodka or Russian Standard.