I love ginger! I must try this at home, I think to myself as I sip Frank Plusk’s signature Domaine de Canton 2014 Global Bartender of the Year contest entry cocktail while chatting with a wine country friend in town for the weekend.
So the next day I head to the Downtown Specs Liquor Warehouse (Smith Street) to pick up a bottle of Domaine de Canton to make my own Asian Lemon Drop Martini. I find the fancy bottle, and the fancy price. Not expensive — but for a specialty liqueur that will be used in drinks that only I will consume, $40 a bottle gives me a bit of a pause.
I bring the bottle home, and successfully make my own Asian Lemon Drop Martini. Then I ask Mr. Google what else I might make with my fancy French ginger liqueur. Someone has a do-it-youself Ginger Liqueur recipe! Never one to follow recipes exactly (except mostly when baking) I decide to create my own version, adapted from this one, thinking to myself how easy and quick it will be given the author tells me it takes just 20 minutes.
Caveat emptor: 20 minutes means different things to different people.
WineWonkette’s DIY Ginger Liqueur
2 ounces ginger root (or a thick piece about 3.5 inches long)
1 vanilla bean
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 orange (for zest)
375 ml brandy
1/4 teaspoon Wildflower comb/raw honey
Implements and tools:
Liquid/Dry measuring cups
teaspoon for measuring
paper coffee filter
metal/gold coffee filter
Chopstick or knitting needle and dental tool (<– What?)
750 ml clear glass bottle with a Grolsch/flip top or good seal
I like the resealable 25-ounce Grolsch-type (flip top) bottles that Rieme Sparkling Lemonade comes in. You will want clear glass so you can keep an eye on the cloudiness in the bottle. Make sure you sterilize your bottle first. You can use your dishwasher high heat cycle. Make sure you let the bottle cool before you add any liquid. Cold liquids shatter hot bottles. You have been warned.
Prep and cooking: 30 – 45 minutes
Start to Finish Liqueur: 4 days
Yield: Makes about 1 Imperial pint (~568 ml)
Day 1 – Prep and Cook
1.1 Carefully peel the ginger, then cut into thin slices with your sharp knife. Set aside about 1/2 tablespoon of raw ginger slices.
1.2. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half.
1.3. Combine the water, sugar, remaining ginger slices and vanilla bean into your saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Add honey and stir. Continue simmering until ginger is soft. Let cool. Do not strain. Yet.
1.4. Pour the cooled liquid through the funnel into the glass bottle.
1.5. Zest the orange over a small bowl, or directly into the funnel, which you have placed into the neck of your bottle.
1.6. Using your chopstick, knitting needle (sterilized) or even a Fondue fork, push the zest and softened ginger slices through the funnel into the bottle. Put the two halves of the vanilla beans into the bottle.
1.7. Then pour the Brandy into the bottle, and add the raw ginger. Seal the bottle and shake. Set aside to steep, for 2 days.
Day 2 – Continue to Steep
Day 3 – Filter and Steep
3.1. After 2 days, pour the mixture from the bottle through a strainer into a large plastic or glass mixing bowl with a spout to filter out the orange zest and the vanilla beans. Leave the ginger slices that don’t easily come out of the bottle in the bottle.
3.2. Using a funnel and strainer together, pour the liquid back into the bottle, shake and seal. Steep for two more days with the ginger slices in the bottle.
Day 4 – Filter, Steep, Keep
4.1. On day four, pour the steeped liquid from the bottle through the gold coffee filter to help remove leftover vanilla or orange zest, into a mixing bowl or measuring cup with a spout.
4.2. Using your chopsticks and dental tool, remove the ginger slices from the bottle. I saved the ginger, put it in plain vodka and stored it in the fridge to use as a garnish.
4.3. Rinse the bottle with hot water, set it aside and allow it to dry. While your bottle is drying, line your strainer with a paper coffee filter. Slowly pour the steeped liqueur through the filter and strainer. You may have to poke a few tiny holes into the filter. This filtering process is a bit slow, but necessary.
4.4. Put liquid back into the now rinsed and dried bottle, and use to make cocktails as you would Domaine de Canton. It’s a little bit sweeter than the original classic Domaine de Canton, which allows you to forego or half the simple syrup in the Asian Lemon Drop Martini.
Look for more cocktail recipes using your homemade ginger liqueur. Or submit your own! In the meantime, check out my recipe for Ginger tea – a great stomach soother!