Pumpkin Spice Vodka
It’s after American Thanksgiving, and I’m starting to fill up with the joys of holiday spirit(s). Tra la la! Tra la la la la!! For some people, the holidays mean wassailing under snowy skies and roasting chestnuts by a flickering fire (bearskin rug is optional, of course). But for me? The holidays mean eating pie until the urge to vomit becomes a way of life, and mass consumption of holiday liqueurs.
Holiday spiced bevvies are totally where it’s at. I mean, you get the joys of holiday baking but with no half of the somewhat fewer calories! Holiday boozing is also an integral part of the season, because after a day trolling through stinky malls where harangued looking mothers make their toddlers walk so they can use the stroller as a shopping-cart-cum-weapon, a cocktail is not optional. It is essential.
Before we move into the sugar plum rums and citrus spiked pear liquors, let’s take a nod at the fall with some delicately squash-like sweet pumpkin spiced liquor.
Pumpkin: It’s not just for lighting on fire to terrify children. Although that’s pretty awesome too.
Pumpkin Spice Vodka
- 2 kg (~4.5 lb) fresh pumpkin *
- 12 cloves
- 16 allspice berries
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 2-3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 large bottles (40 oz each) vodka **
* Thanksgiving is old news. Give the pumpkins a rebirth that they’ll enjoy! All you’ll need is about half of a medium pie pumpkin. Not all pumpkins are created equal, and the pumpkin that you’d carve on Hallowe’en isn’t necessarily what you’d want to cook or bake with as a first choice. You want a sweet, flavorful and densely fleshed pumpkin to get as much of that delicate squashy flavor as you can into the hooch.
** Yes, that’s 80 oz of liquor. I figure this will last us for some time though….at least until next Tuesday.
Peel the pumpkin and cut it up into medium chunks, about 1″ square.
Divide the pumpkin up between 4 extra large clean and sterilized Mason jars. Into each jar measure 4 tablespoons of brown sugar and tuck in 3 cloves, 4 whole allspice berries, and a few gratings of fresh nutmeg (or a pinch of dry). Break the cinnamon sticks into large pieces of bark and divide them among the jars as well.
Fill the jars with vodka until it comes up to within 1/2″ of the lip of the jar. Make sure that they’re sealed nice and tight before you SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE to dissolve the sugar.
Store the jars in a cool dry place for at least two weeks, shaking them up once or twice a week if you can remember to do so. If not? Meh. A little bit of crystallized sugar never killed anyone. And if it did? Well, that would be a heck of a way to go – sign me up.
When the pumpkin and spice have infused into the vodka the color will have deepened into a rich caramel and the liquid will appear almost slightly hazy. I was going to say ‘murky’, but I think ‘hazy’ sounds more sophisticate and less swampy. I prefer to save the swamp-thang for *after* mass consumption of pumpkin spice liquor, not before.
Drain the infused liqueur through a fine-mesh sieve. For ease of transit, I like to sit the strainer in a funnel and pour the liquor straight into a large ewer. Regardless of which vesicle it will eventually up in, at least it will be easier to pour.
Store your pumpkiny moon-shine in the fridge if you like it chilled, in the liquor cabinet if you don’t, or on the counter if you live in our house.
Pumpkin: We only make you into pie because it’s tradition, not because it’s good.
And now then, on to the tipples…..
I would hate to limit your imagination on what to do with this tasty infusion, but if you need some inspiration we’re happy to oblige. This first cocktail has “girls’ night in” written all over it. It’s the cocktail that I’d give to my teetotalling mother…and then watch her burn the gravy and fall asleep on the couch. I’m a giver like that.
This creamy-sweet decadence is a nice reminder that the holidays only come once a year, so you might as well enjoy them while you can. After all, indulgence is what this season is all about! Here we have all the luxury of a rich and delicious dessert, but without the guilt. After all, vodka is -and has always been – trans-fat free! What more justification do you need?
Creamy Pumpkin Cheesecake-tini
- 1.5 oz pumpkin spice vodka
- 1/2 oz butterscotch schnapps
- 1/2 oz Irish cream
Drop a few cubes of ice into a cocktail shaker. Follow with the boozes and shake them well until the mixture is chilled. Strain into a martini glass.
Pumpkin: Cleaning it smells like the cat pooped in your little brother’s hockey bag, but we eat it anyway. Huh.
If the sweet and rich just isn’t for you, that’s okay too. We have something for that. The cheesecake-tini is a decadent dessert in a glass, but for the chest-pumping footballer who would rather shave his nuts than drink anything in a stem glass, we present to you The Dirty Orchard.
The Dirty Orchard
- 1.5 oz pumpkin spice vodka
- 1/2 oz Applekorn *
- 1/2 oz Jack Daniels or bourbon
* Applekorn is a German apple liquor with a sweet but strong fruit flavor. You can find Applekorn (or a close proximity) labelled “apple schnapps” or “apple jack”. What you probably want to steer clear of, however, would be an apple brandy which would give the drink a bit too much how-dya-do. Calvados would certainly add a touch of class but also make a stronger drink and doesn’t have as much sweetness.
Shake the liquors over 2-3 cubes of ice and pour the mixture into a flat martini or rocks glass. Sip and enjoy.
Pumpkin: 8 lbs of flesh for only $3.50? What a hussy. I think I’m in love.
Don’t you just adore the holiday season?