If you’re like me, this is the time of year when you need a hostess gift several times a week, as you trot out to one cocktail party after another. Or, perhaps the in-laws are arriving for an extended holiday visit and you feel the need to premedicate! Regardless of the occasion, we have three awesome recipes that will have you making your own holiday cheer in a bottle. These have all been tested and approved by us, in a rigorous double-blind study with multiple repetitions, and we have deemed them perfect to make and serve to everyone on your gift list!
My personal favorite is this limoncello recipe at allrecipes.com, by Michele O’Sullivan. I’ve made it many times, without tweaking it a bit (as some of the commenters have), and I love it. The only drawback is that you have to zest TEN lemons to make a batch, so watch your nails and your knuckles and get to work! Limoncello is great just to sip on its own, or mix it with some citrus vodka and a splash of sweet and sour mix for an awesome lemon martini.
Raspberry vodka, by the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten, is as simple as washing fresh raspberries and dropping them into a liter of vodka to sit for at least a month. There isn’t an online link to this recipe (probably because it’s so easy), but it’s in my copy of her Parties! cookbook that you can find here. By the way, if you don’t own every single one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks, then I highly recommend that you ask Santa for them–they are awesome.
For coffee lovers, kahlua is always a great liquor to make for the holidays. My favorite recipe for kahlua is from my dear friend Candace, and I’ll post it below. Be warned, though–the other two recipes are vodka based, but this one starts with Pure Grain Alcohol. If you’ve never consumed PGA, it’s 190 proof and will knock you on your rear end for days if you’re not careful! Also, I just read that for those of us in North Carolina, we can’t buy PGA at liquor stores anymore. You can substitute with vodka without any repercussions, other than the fact that you’ll be able to have a second sip!
One thing you’ll want to remember is that all of these recipes take several weeks to make as the flavors need to blend. You’ll want to get going on them soon if you intend to use them as holiday gifts.
The last part–but definitely the most fun–is to find cute bottles for your creations and package them up beautifully. Thrift stores are usually a great place to start, although I’ve found good ones at Wal-mart, Pier 1, Trader Joe’s (I had to drink what was in them first–what a shame!), and TJ Maxx. Amy was kind enough to make us drink tag printables. I usually tie a couple of ribbons or some raffia around the bottle’s neck and then they’re ready to give away…or keep for yourself!
Here’s to Holiday Cheer!
- 6 cups white sugar
- 1/2 cup instant coffee
- 2-1/2 qt boiling water
- 1 qt pure grain alcohol (this will probably be 2 bottles)
- 1/4 cup pure vanilla extract or 2 madagascar vanilla beans
In a large bowl, combine sugar and coffee granules. Slowly add boiling water, stirring with a whisk until completely dissolved.
Allow to cool completely (this is really important. Walk away and come back in about 3-4 hours!). Slowly, whisk in pure grain alcohol. Slice open vanilla beans and scrape seeds into mixture, or pour in extract. Whisk together.
Bottle and store in a cool, dark place for at least 2 weeks.
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