You can flavour vodka with pretty much whatever you want. My Mum does an amazing raspberry vodka. I enjoyed peach vodka through autumn (recipe below
http://thefabulousmission.blogspot.com.2011/09/preserving-summer.html#comments). I've heard of chili vodka, butterscotch vodka (put some Werther's in the vodka, shake and let infuse for a week and then strain), and Christmas pudding vodka. I think the latter is a step too far.
Last year, I discovered the gold standard of flavoured vodkas. Limoncello. Limoncello is basically just lemons and a sugar syrup added to alcohol. It's intense, refreshing, evocative of summer and thus amazing in the winter.
The zest of 5 lemons
1 litre of vodka
750g of white sugar
700mL of boiling water
1. Zest 5 lemons (you don't need the juice from the lemons as the juice makes the taste more bitter, the zest just allows the lemon oil to infuse the alcohol).
2. Add 1 litre of vodka and put into bottle.
3. Shake to release the oils from the zest and shake once a day, or when you can remember, for a week.
4. Make the sugar syrup by pouring 700mL of water over 750g of sugar. Stir until completely dissolved. Empty vodka and lemon mix into sugar syrup. Stir. This year I used golden caster sugar instead of white, thinking the colour would be, well, more golden. It's purer and more lemon looking with white sugar.
5. Pour mixture into bottles and shake. Continue to shake once a day for a week. Strain lemon zest from the liquid.
Although this may be a bit late to start as a Christmas present, it would be ready for New Year's Eve. It would also make a sweet birthday present or thank you to someone who really, really deserves something lovely.
Drink limoncello as a liqueur-- it is sweet-- on ice or from the freezer for maximum lemon freshness.
I made lemon curd at the same time as the limoncello (it's easy to zest and juice a few more lemons) and have been loving it with a little vanilla ice cream. Yogurt would be even more refreshing, I'm sure. I used this recipe
and will happily again. I used the zest of a clementine and a lime, as I ran out of lemons. The photo of the zest above is actually from the lemon curd mission, hence the small orange ribbons.
What do you think? What's a sweet homemade present, given or received?