Sunday, December 11, 2011

Making Herbal Gifts - Liquors and Spiced Wine

One of my favorite ‘quick presents’ is a bottle of wine, something that many people resort to buying for people they don’t know what to buy for, but I add an extra dimension to my gift.  Sometimes I add a couple of mulled wine glasses (the kind with a handle on) and pack the lot up in a basket with mulling spices.  You can pre-mix the seasoning, or add a little recipe scroll and a pretty organza bag full of spices contained in the recipe so that the recipient can make up batches of soothing, warming and delicious mulled wine

Mulling Spices for Wine or Cider

8 to 10 whole cloves
3 cinnamon sticks
6 to 8 whole cardamom pods
3 star anise

Add spices to 1 750 ml bottle of dry red wine (like cabernet sauvignon or merlot) with a slice of lemon and orange.  If you like it sweet add 2/3 cup honey.

If you have in time and inclination, you can also make your own liquers.  I found these three receipes in my files and tried the first one with great success.

Many wonderful drinks had their beginnings in medieval monastic gardens and stillrooms. They're easy to make, but they do take time to age. If you start now, you'll be offering your liqueur New Years’ Eve guests and still have some to serve at spring events. To ensure that your liqueurs are worth the time it takes to make them, use the best ingredients, store in glass or ceramic containers, and age in a cool dark spot.

These recipes use vodka and white wine; brandy or white rum are also good. Berry Rosy Liqueur
2 pints blackberries or raspberries
1 cup fresh rose geranium leaves
4 cups vodka
½ cup white wine
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
Combine the berries, geranium leaves, vodka, and wine in a wide-mouth jar with a tight-fitting lid. Steep for one month in a cool, dark place. Open and crush the berries slightly with a potato masher and steep for another 4-5 days. Strain, pressing the juice from the berries, then filter through a coffee filter or double layer of cheesecloth. To make the syrup, bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan, add sugar, and stir until dissolved. Cool. Add half the syrup to the liqueur; taste, then continue to add and taste until it is as sweet as you like. Pour into a bottle, cap it, and age in a cool, dark place for three weeks to three months. Makes about 1½ quarts.
Spiced Pear Liqueur
8 ripe pears, juiced (about 4 cups pear juice)
2-inch piece ginger root, peeled, sliced
1 whole nutmeg
1 cinnamon stick
4 cups vodka
½ cup white wine
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
Combine the pears, ginger root, spices, vodka, and wine and proceed as above, steeping for 5 weeks. Strain, filter. Make the syrup and add as above. Bottle and age for at least 4 weeks—the longer the better.
Van Der Tum Liqueur
This is a slightly different liqueur from South Africa.  It was served on special occasions.  The spices in it make it perfect for this time of year.
6 whole Cloves
1 stick Cinnamon
1/2 Nutmeg, grated
3 cups Brandy
2 Tbls. sliced Mandarin Orange peel
3 cups Rum
1 cup white sugar
½ cup water

Bruise the cloves and cinnamon and tie, with the nutmeg, in a muslin bag. Place the muslin bag, brandy, orange peel and rum in a clean, sterilized jar and seal. Allow to infuse for one month, shaking the jar gently every day. Strain the liqueur through muslin. Boil the water and sugar until very thick, then combine with the liqueur. Decant into dry, sterilized bottles and seal.

As always you can find more recipes of a seasonal nature by visiting our Advent Calendar which adds a new holiday recipe or craft each day through December 25th.  It also has some hidden treasure int he form of discounts and free items from the Backyard Patch.


  1. Really great post, Thank you for sharing
    personalised gifts

  2. It's really an informative and well described post regarding making Liquors and Spiced Wine . I appreciate your topic for blogging. Thanks for sharing such a useful post. Party Hat


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