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Crafting Better, Smarter, Stronger, Beverage Professionals

Better Bartending 

Modern Day Alchemist

Mixologist Cabinets

The Alchemist is another hat that the Master Mixologist must wear.  Every great Mixologist should have at least one mysterious bottle of some insane concoction that he had made up.  A great Mixologist will be able to create and design not only cocktails but flavored alcohols through the process of steeping alcohols.  This is a true talent and a Mixologist, first attempting to do this should use recipes first before straying off the beaten path.  This will save you a lot of bad tasting and possibly toxic cocktails.  There are two forms of steeping; maceration and infusion.  Both Infusion and Maceration are very different but creates the same effect.  The range of alcohols that a Mixologist can produce is enormous; flavored vodkas and schnapps to liqueurs and other digestifs.   


Infusion vs. Maceration

Most people say that they are infusing their own flavored vodka at home, don’t really mean what they say.  Most people who flavor their own alcohol are macerating a bottle of vodka they bought.  Infusing refers to extracting flavors through the use of heat.    Maceration on the other hand, refers to the process of extracting flavor through room temperature or cold.     


Choosing your flavor

Alcohol can be blended nicely with just about anything.  The choice between which type of alcohol to what flavors you want to steep in the alcohol is almost infinite and stretches as far as your imagination. You can choose between either fresh fruit, or more alternative ingredients.  Mellow flavors include cantaloupe, peach, strawberry, cherry, blueberry, raspberry, blackberry, pineapple, mango and vanilla beans. For more of a bite try Lemon, lime or grapefruit.  If you want to go out on a limb try ginger root, lemongrass, chili peppers, or even garlic.  However, a true alchemist will blend more than one ingredient searching for a more superior flavor.



Liqueurs are typically, other people’s distilled spirit mixed with flavoring repackaged and sent out as their own product.  Every liqueur on the market today has a base agent whether it be a cognac or a whiskey they all produce unique and interesting styles of liqueurs.  The main factor in making liqueurs is sugar.  The amount of sugar added to a mixture can build thickness and sweetness, while diluting the spirit.  Sugar acts a main role in producing these fine liqueurs. 


Strong: 31-55% sugar
Dessert: 32-50% sugar
Crème: 50-60% sugar



Making Flavored Alcohols

There are three stages when flavoring your own alcohol; steeping, filtering, and aging. 



To begin the steeping process you must know what you are making; if you want a liqueur or flavored liquor.  Obtain a large sealable jar.  This jar is where all of the steeping will take place.  Acquire all of your ingredients.  If you need to make syrup or cut your ingredients in anyway, do so.  Mix your ingredients into the large jar and walk away.  Every week that you have your mixture in the jar you need to stir or shake it depending on what you are making.       



The length of time you want to steep your alcohol will vary depending on the alcohol content that you are attempting to achieve and the type of flavor you are macerating.



1-14 days



1-14 days



1-3 weeks



3 weeks - 12 months



3 weeks - 12 months



The filtering process can be a simple or daring task.  Some filtering process exists solely to remove any particles that remain within the liquid.  However, others go to extreme of filtering out color and flavor to get the desire effect.  Every liquor that goes through the steeping process should be filtered and the first step would be to use some sort of strainer to remove the small particles within the liquid.  However, if one feels the need to continue the filtering process by removing all particles and possibly even color they would need a large cheese clothe.  Cheese clothes will remove most particles that are in the liquid and after it is done several times through different cheese clothes it has been known to remove the color that ingredients in your recipe left behind.  



The basic rules to aging are designed merely as a guideline that should be followed your first few times creating your new concoction.  By using he aging periods guideline, it will ensure that you waste your time and money on this project and not create a drinkable concoction.  Once you become more experienced with the aging process will you truly be able to judge just how long something should be aged. 

Alchemist Cookbook


1 dozen apricot seeds

1 liter vodka

Place the seeds in a jar and pour in the vodka. Let sit at room temperature for 24 hours. Taste. Strain it or let it sit another 24 hours and taste again.



1 liter vodka

2 cups blueberries, rinsed and dried

1 cup raspberry liqueur

Juice of 1 lime

1 twist of lime zest

Put a small nick in each of the blueberries and put in a glass jar. Pour the vodka over the blueberries then add the raspberry liqueur. Let sit in a dark place for 2 weeks.



¼ cup dried camomile flowers

1 liter vodka

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

Steep the flowers in alcohol for 2 weeks. Filter and add sugar syrup. Age for 3 months.



1 liter vodka

1 ½ pound cherries, destemed

2 ½ cups sugar

2 ½ cups water

Crush cherries into the bottom of a jar add ½ cup sugar and ½ cup water.  Make simple syrup using the remaining sugar and water.  Pour simple syrup while it is still warm into the jar.  Stir mixture.  Let cool add vodka.  Let sit for one month, shaking the ingredients twice a week.  Filter liqueur into new jar and let sit for a few days before bottling.  Filter again before bottling.  Let bottle sit for three months before opening.   



4 zests of lemon

4 zests of orange

1 orange, sliced

1 ½ cup sugar

1 ½ cup water

1 liter of vodka

In a jar, add vodka, sliced orange, orange and lemon zest; let sit for a few day.  Make simple syrup using the water and sugar.  Add simple syrup once it is cooled to the rest of the ingredients.  Let sit for two weeks, shaking the ingredients once a week.  Filter into a new jar and then filter again before bottling.  Let sit for at least two months.  



1 cup brown sugar

1-1/2 cups sugar

2 cups water

1/2 cup instant coffee crystals

3 cups vodka

5 tsp. vanilla extract

10 whole coffee beans

In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugars and water and mix well to blend. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to low and simmer until the mixture forms a syrup, about 5 - 7 minutes.  Add coffee crystals and stir well with a wire whisk until crystals are dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Remove pan from the heat and cool completely. Then add vodka, vanilla extract, and coffee beans. Pour the liqueur into a half gallon glass bottle. Cover tightly and let mature for at least two weeks. You can pour this mixture into pint jars if you wish to give as gifts. Be sure to put storing instructions on any gift bottles. Store in a cool dark place.



1 liter Single Malt Scotch

1 cup ginger root, chopped

1 cup simple syrup

2 sprigs rosemary

In large jar add ginger, scotch, and rosemary.  Let sit for three days.  Shake and add simple syrup.  Let sit in for no less then 4 weeks, shaking once a week.  Filter twice and then once more with a cheese clothe.  Bottle and let age for at least three weeks.  The longer the aging process is given the more delicate the spirit becomes.


3 eggs

2 tsp coconut extract
4 TBS chocolate syrup

2 TBS vanilla
1 liter Irish whiskey

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

Combine all ingredients in blender for 3 minutes. Refrigerate until thick, approximately 3-4 weeks. This recipe is amazingly similar to commercial brands.



15 lemons
2 bottles 100 proof vodka (750 ml each)
6 cups sugar
4 cups water

Scrub lemons, using warm water and a brush, to remove any wax or pesticide residue. Remove zest from lemons using a vegetable peeler. Avoid including the white pith, as this adds bitterness. Add the zest to half of the vodka. Wait 40 days and then add second half of the vodka and sugar syrup. Sugar syrup is made by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan, bring to boil and cook about 5 minutes. Wait another 40 days then strain out zest and bottle. Can be stored at room temperature, but keep a bottle in the freezer for serving.

A note of caution: I have judged a lemon cordial that included the peel along with the juice in the recipe and it had a very bitter taste. We concluded that the pith left on the lemon peel was the cause of the bitterness.



1 litre of vodka

1/8 tsp anise essential oil (15 drops or use equivalent pure aniseed extract from Supermarket)

2 cups of granulated sugar (can be in form of invert syrup)

1 tsp glycerine (for smoothness)

Add anise oil to alcohol and shake vigorously to dissolve. Add sugar and glycerine.



35 mint leaves

1 liter vodka

1 lemon peel

2 cups sugar

2 cups water

Macerate mint leaves in alcohol for 4 weeks. Strain. Make a sugar syrup, boiling together the lemon peel. Cool and add to alcohol.


1/3 cup orange zest*

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups cognac or French brandy

1/2 teaspoon glycerine

Place zest and sugar in a small bowl. Mash together with the back of a wooden spoon or pestle. Continue until sugar is absorbed into zest. Place in aging container. Add cognac. Stir, cap and age in a cool, dark place 2 to 3 months. Shake monthly. After initial aging, strain and filter. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine. Cap and age 3 months more before serving. Makes about 1 pint.



½ pound oranges, Peeled

½ pound pears, cut in 1/4

2 cups sugar

1 liter vodka

In a jar, add pears, orange peels and sugar.  Let sit in a dark place for a few days until sugar is dissolving onto the fruit.  Cut oranges into wheels and add vodka and oranges to the jar.  Let sit in a dark place for a month.  Shake weekly.  After a month filter twice in a bottle.     



3 large pears, cored and cut into 1/2-inch strips

1 liter vodka

2 whole cloves

2 whole allspice

1 cinnamon stick

1 cup sugar

Place all ingredients in a jar, cover tightly and shake to blend. Store for two weeks in a cool, dark place, shaking it every other day. After two weeks, strain the liquid through a strainer or cheesecloth into a glass bowl. Transfer to a bottle. Cap tightly and store in a cool, dark place for another 2 weeks.


2-4 jalapeño peppers

1 liter vodka

Place peppers in jar whole or cut in half for quicker infusion and more intense flavor. Let it sit for 1-2 weeks, tasting for desired flavor.


PICKLEY PEAR LIQUEUR (Liquore di fico d'india)

10 ripe cactus pears

1 liter vodka

2 cups water

2 cups sugar

Peel cactus pears. Steep fruit in alcohol for 10 days. It acquires from the fruit a dark orange to red color. Remove fruit and add sugar syrup. Strain and age for 20 days.



2 large pomegranates, pods only

1 1/2 cups vodka

3/4 cups sugar

3/8 cups water

1/2 peel, lemon, scraped

Remove pods from pomegranates. Throw away rind and pith. Press out all the juice with a good, sturdy press. Put the resulting juice and pulp in a 1-liter mason jar (any glass jar you can effectively seal works; I use Arc jars from France, and Fidenza jars from Italy). Prepare lemon peel, toss in jar. Add vodka. Seal jar.

Steep two weeks (though I have left it as much as four with no ill effects), turning it over once a day. Strain and filter. Squeeze the pulp moderately hard, but realize that the harder you squeeze, the harder will be the job of filtering later on. It's a tough balance to make.

Now, boil the sugar and water together. Let stand a moment to cool. Add syrup to mixture, and seal quickly. Age another month. Remove, filter again, bottle. You should note that there's a thick haze or sludge on the bottom of your jar, and you will find it incredibly difficult to filter out with anything but a serious wine filter. Instead, you might consider racking the liqueur (siphoning the good liqueur off the top, and discarding the sludge on the bottom). You lose a little bit of liquid along with the sludge, but you sure save yourself a lot of work filtering.



1 liter vodka

1 ½ pound raspberries

2 lemon peels

2 cups sugar

Smash raspberries into jar, add sugar and lemon peels and let sit in a dark place for two days.  Add vodka and let sit in a dark place for one month.  Shake weekly.  Filter ingredients into another jar and filter again before bottling. 



1 litre white wine

¼ cup sugar




gentian proveid


peel from 2 oranges

Steep in the wine, a pinch each of the herbs and spices, for 3 days. Strain, add sugar, bottle. Consume after 15 days.



1 liter vodka

2 cups sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 lemon peel sliced

10 cloves

30 walnuts, quartered

Add walnuts, lemon peel, cinnamon and cloves to a jar.  Add sugar and let sit for two days, in a dark place.  Add vodka and let sit for two months.  Shake weekly.  Filter into a new jar.  Filter again before bottling.  Once bottled let age for at least 6 months. 



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