Country Living (the British version) arrived at my parents’ house on Christmas Eve. It’s a personal favorite of my mother’s and mine. We sat on the couch drinking coffee and flipping through the pages that immediately take you to another world filled with delightful accents, elevenses and quaint, snow-covered gardens. Not to mention all of the various food ideas and photos. The magazine is like food and decorating porn all in one.
I quickly made my way to the back section which always features a collection of recipes. I stopped at a page with a photo of glass bottles with big corks, labeled simply with tape and black cursive writing, “Whiskey” and “Cranberry Vodka.” A “Trio of Liqueurs” said the recipe. “If you make a selection of liqueurs as gifts for Christmas you will have the satisfaction of seeing the fruits of your labors lined up gently deepening in color as they mature.” I grabbed a pen and scribbled the recipe that called for whiskey, orange rind, cloves and figs. That sounded like something I should have on hand in the new year.
Handmade hooch. Not only fit for gifting during this season, but a growing trend in foodie circles. Nothing says “this person knows what they’re doing” more than pulling out a home-brewed liqueur at a dinner party. It’s chic, edgy and fun. Which is probably why smaller, craft distilleries are having new found levels of success. That and the fact that home distilling in the United States is still illegal, making way for the small, craft producers, that have the necessary permits in place.
The New York Times recently covered a selection of city professionals turned distillery masters, in a quest for not only good tasting alcohol but a return to a simpler time, that honors agricultural heritage, and even urbanites on a newfound quest to craft something delicious and different that will wow their friends.
Distilling obviously takes a little more finesse and work than simply pouring a few cups of whiskey in a bottle, adding some spices and making sure you take the time to turn it every few days. But the idea is the same: create something new, different and maybe even a little off the wall. As Chris Weld, of Berkshire Mountain Distillers, told the New York Times, “We have the ability to diversify wildly. We can make a fruit brandy one day and a whiskey the next.”
Brandies, gins, fruit liqueurs – the options are seemingly endless, and as the trend grows, small distilleries continue to pop up with new offerings, meaning your liquor cabinet has very few limits to what it can be stocked with. If you’ve already gotten on the craft beer bandwagon, craft gin and even more risqué absinthe can’t be far behind.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to stick to the DIY method, keep with the artisan liqueurs. They’re easy, perfectly legal and will certainly up your dinner hostess status. Cheers!
Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of Anna Brones’s column at EcoSalon, Foodie Underground. Each week, Anna will be taking a look at something new and different that’s taking place in the underground food movement, from supper clubs to mini markets to culinary avant garde.