March 30, 2009

Bourbon and spice and everything nice

Quite some time ago, I was experimenting with making some extracts. I started off with a vanilla extract (just a couple of split pods, cut up and soaked for a couple months with the seeds in vodka) and then thought that a spice extract could be useful for both baking AND mixing.

So I took a an empty fifth bottle, added a pair of cinnamon sticks, about 5 cloves, and a nutmeg that I'd split in half and then filled the whole thing with vodka (it was Svedka brand if you're really wondering). And then I let it sit for a long time. It turned an incredible fiery amber color and smelled very powerful. It's definitely a useful and unusual ingredient, and would make a good counterpoint to pimento dram (more on that in a later post!) I bought a couple little cobalt bottles with eyedroppers in the caps and store it in the fridge with the homemade vanilla extract, a quick ginger extract I made with overproof rum, and a eyedropper full of pimento dram. They don't take up a lot of space, but they're great to have on hand.

So tonight (yes, I'm posting in real time) I mixed up a little bourbon cocktail with the spice extract and a couple of extra flavors:

2 oz bourbon
5 drops spice extract
3 drops vanilla extract (if you want to use commercial, by all means do it, but I'd use just one or two drops...that stuff's a LOT more powerful than homemade)
2 dashes Angostura bitters

I just built the drink over ice and gave it a good swirling with a bar spoon. The result is really quite nice. You get that sweet-sour hit from the bourbon, a nose full of the deep floral of the vanilla, a little bit of nuttiness, and a lingering spiciness in the back of the throat from the extract. If you can devote a couple months to making your own spice extract (and a little goes a long way), you'll have a fun little ingredient that will add depth to a lot of different drinks (and foods).


  1. Chris:
    What liquid did you use to make the spice extract? Vodka? Water (shudder)? Neutral grain spirits?

  2. Hey Jim,

    It was just plain ol' vodka. Sorry! I guess I imagined putting that in there! I'll update the post to be clearer on that.