Sometimes you have to leave the city to realize how impatient we can be. Don’t have your breakfast order at the tip of your tongue? Expect to be passed over. Fumbling for your Metrocard at the turnstile with a train approaching, you’ll get dirty looks. Walking three-abreast at leisurely pace down Lexington Avenue during rush hour might get you stabbed. Our little conveniences of efficiency have led us to expect things quickly. It’s not that we never wait -- the lines in Whole Foods are a testament to our resolve -- it’s just that if we’re willing to put in the time, the reward at the end better be worth it (assuming our ice cream didn’t melt). It’s likely that it is this general impatience that has kept us from steeping our own spirits. However, we’ve been newly converted. After a sip of the Vanilla steeped rum at Town this week, we can unequivocally say it’s worth the wait.
What makes these homegrown spirits so different then the flavored vodkas and spirits out there is the concentration of natural flavors. Plus you can get creative, making almost any flavor alcohol you can think of – freshly cracked black pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, even bacon. It’s easy to make, but the problem is most of the recipes require the mixture to be stored for ten days to two months . Our advice is to start now and you’ll have most ready in time for your New Years party.
Some of our favorites…
Just one sip of this rum at Town, inspired us to try our hand at steeping spirits. The caramel and maple syrup notes are the perfect compliments to the vanilla flavor. Town used top quality rum called Pyrat, which makes a difference in the end product. The spirit will only be as good as the ingredients you put in, so don’t skimp on the vanilla beans either.
Place 2 – 3 pricked vanilla pods in a clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid
Add 1 liter of quality rum and seal
Leave in a dark place for at least 10 days, taste, continue to steep to desired concentration.
Cracked Peppercorn Vodka
If you love Bloody Marys as much as we do then this is a vodka you might want to try. The heat from the peppercorn vodka kicks up the spice in the bloody mary and adds another layer of flavor.
Place 1 – 2 tbsp of cracked black peppercorns in clean glass jar with a tight fitting lid
Add 1 liter of unflavoured vodka (80 proof) and seal
Steep for 2 – 4 weeks or until reached desired concentration (for just a hint of pepper steep only for a couple of days).
Strain and enjoy.
This one is great sipped neat, as an after dinner drink. Or if you want to spice up your eggnog, Use this in your recipe to add a slight, yet delicious, almond essence.
Put 2-3 handfuls of sweet almond seeds into a clean glass jar with tight-fitting lid.
Add 1 liter unflavoured vodka (80 proof) and seal
Let steep for 4-5 weeks in a dark place
Shake lightly and taste it from time to time.
Strain and filter into a clean glass bottle
Store (age) for two months or more in a dark place at room temperature before serving.
If you read this far along then clearly you have the patience necessary for this kind of undertaking. A couple of weeks is not that long to wait for such an easy and unique way to build up your liquor cabinet. You may even find that the most frustrating part of the process is the wait in line at Whole Foods trying to get your peppercorns, behind the guy who can’t find his wallet.
General steeping time suggestions:
Fresh roots: 1-2 weeks
Fresh leaves: 1-7 days
Fresh flowers: 1-7 days
Fresh berries: 2 weeks - 12 months
Fresh fruits: 2 weeks - 12 months
Fresh seeds: 1-7 days