“Hello, my name is Food D., and I’m an alcoholic.”
If you didn’t know that, let’s be up front. I’ve been on the wagon successfully and with no feelings of loss for six years now and I have zero problem with liquor being near me, or me being near it.
But this isn’t a political discussion or a self-help blog, so that’s that.
The only reason you need to know that about me is so you’ll understand my developing a liquor-heavy recipe is tantamount to someone with celiac giving you a wheat bread recipe: I’m to an extent floating blind because I can’t really taste-test my own work.
I have no problem finger-tasting, though. It’s not like I’m downing a shot and having at it with my old-school ways. So it’s not COMPLETELY blindly that I develop such recipes; it’s more like visual impairment of the tongue.
I ran to post this because over the weekend, I had a cocktail party and decided that cooking for two dozen guests wasn’t a difficult enough task. No… I had to make liquor as well.
This was one of the best-received of the batches, and I now know that my intent to make Cordial/Cookie/Snack pairings as Christmas gifts was indeed inspired, and must indeed come to fruition this season.
Not an easy task, mind you, as I’m also starring in an off-broadway show that runs through New Year’s — but if a silly little thing like alcoholism can’t hold this guy down, certainly a 5- and 6-performance-a-week gig can’t dampen my ability to get my Holiday Kitchen Freak on.
Herewith the first of the cordial and liquor recipes I have to share with you. I keep clear bottles and green glass bottles, and anything nice I can get my hands on, just for the sake of putting up cordials and soda syrups. Screw top, or cork top matters not. The alcohol keeps them shelf stable, but if my party was any indicator, they won’t be sitting on the shelf long.
This recipe yields about a quart, so the chef has a bit for tasting left over after pouring into a standard wine bottle.
1-1/2 Cups white sugar
1 Cup water
2 Cups vodka
1 Heaping Tbsp. green tea leaves
1 or 2 Drops green food dye (optional — completely)
Combine sugar and water in a saucepan, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to medium and simmer, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a separate saucepan, add tea leaves to 1/2 Cup of the vodka. Heat over medium-high heat just until the tea leaves begin steeping and releasing their color. Reduce heat to medium-low and continue to warm the vodka tea stirring constantly for a minute. Remove from heat, add remaining vodka, and stir. Allow vodka tea to sit and steep fully for ten more minutes.
Using a fine-mesh sieve, strain vodka to remove all tea leaves. Press remaining liquor from the leaves before you discard them.
Add the vodka tea to the sugar syrup. As the natural color of steeped green tea ranges from a pale yellow to a deep greenish yellow, you may choose at this point to add a drop or two of the optional food coloring. I prefer mine without.
Bottle your cordial (which will now be approximately 40 proof, or half the 80 proof of the vodka which should be, at the outset, the cheapest crap you can find on the bottom-most shelf at the liquor store. It’s this process here that’s making a top-shelf artisan creation, so your raw-good base liquor needn’t be at all premium).
I will be experimenting with different flavorings as I recreate and concoct through the season, but if you’re game ahead of my own timeline, think of common green tea pairings like ginger and lemon zest for your own experimentation, and please report your findings back here!
“Thank you for sharing, Food D….”