Cordial Recipes From Your Kitchen

With these cordial recipes, luscious liqueurs for cold-weather sipping or gourmet cooking are easy to make at home.

| January/February 1981

Amaretto, Kahlua, Strega, Drambuie, and other costly imported liqueurs have enjoyed a tremendous popularity in recent years. Folks have discovered that—aside from their use in cocktails and as after dinner drinks—such elixirs can turn ordinary dishes into fine cuisine (and that a dollop of one of the heady beverages in a cup of hot coffee can guarantee a warm, comfortable conclusion to a cold day of ice fishing or woodcutting or cross-country skiing).

Surprisingly, the budget-breaking connoisseur cordials are quite simple—and comparatively inexpensive—to prepare at home, because infusion (the steeping of ingredients in an alcohol base) is the primary method employed in the art of making liqueurs.

Such preparation doesn't require much in the way of special technical know-how or equipment: An aspiring alchemist needs only measuring cups and spoons, a good-sized saucepan, a funnel, some cheesecloth, a supply of empty bottles (wine, liquor, etc.) that can be securely corked or sealed, and a few cordial recipes.

The Honey Factor

Homemade liqueurs are grouped into two basic types, according to whether the sweetening ingredient is added before or after the infusion period. Most recipes call for sugar, but honey can be substituted in many instances. In fact, the special "character" of some liqueurs, such as Irish Mist and Drambuie, can be directly traced to the distinctive flavor of the natural sweetener.

Clover honey is generally considered ideal for cordial preparation, as its mild flavor won't overpower the other ingredients. The major disadvantage of using honey is that your finished product may have a somewhat cloudy appearance. This can be corrected, however, by carefully siphoning the liquid into a clean bottle after the sediment has had time to settle to the bottom.

Coffee Liqueur

I began my cordial-making career with a recipe for a coffee liqueur. When vodka is used as the base spirit, this drink will turn out much like Mexican Kahlua. If you substitute dark rum for the vodka, it will taste more like Jamaican Tia Maria. (Try serving the beverage over ice cream for a great new twist on the conventional sundae!)

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