Coffee liqueur: Holly jolly cheer

Don’t you love the festivity of the holidays? Isn’t it fun being out in the crowds, choosing and wrapping just the right presents and putting them under the tree, watching (or maybe taking part in) parades, and hosting and attending parties? But if I may be frank with you, before one more person comes over to our little corner with the mistletoe, there are moments that I close my eyes and try to wish the holidays away. The frenetic pace occasionally gets a little heavy.

Every magazine and major website reminds us to take care of ourselves during the days of Fa La La. But who can turn off the phone, TV, and computer for an hour every day with the big days looming? And do I really want to chew / infuse / drink / otherwise ingest special relaxing herbs? The idea of a hot bath sounds nice but I’d soak for about 30 seconds before feeling uncomfortably selfish. Those holiday de-stress tips, all of them, are surely helpful. If you actually do them. But as it is with New Year’s resolutions, the follow-through can be difficult despite the best of festive intentions.

Happily, there is a solution that is guaranteed to make you smile, not (just) because I’m talking about alcohol but also because homemade liqueur doubles as a gift with a high coolness factor. Although this recipe isn’t cheap to make – the addition of commercial chocolate liqueur makes this recipe somewhat pricy (but oh so worth it) – it is nevertheless a worthwhile treat. To lessen the sticker shock you can make your own chocolate liqueur if you have the time (it takes about a week).

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Coffee Liqueur

1 c. water

¾ c. cheap(!!) vodka (a 750 ml bottle will make this recipe, as written, three times)

½ c. brown sugar

½ c. white sugar

4 Tbsp (2 oz.) chocolate liqueur (the larger measure on a jigger)

2 Tbsp + 1 tsp instant espresso

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher and stir until the sugars and the espresso are dissolved. Draw off a little of the mixture and taste it. If you need to add anything to make it sweeter or give it more coffee flavor, add it now, stir well, and taste again. When the mix is right, place a funnel in the mouth of a clean bottle (I prefer using something with a clamp stopper, like a Grolsh Beer bottle) and pour your fresh-made liqueur in the bottle. Store in a cool dark place. This liqueur is usable right away, and it also ages well. Shake well before each use.

One quick note: This makes a liqueur that is extremely sweet. Although liqueurs are typically very sweet you can back off the sugars a little bit and add additional espresso. What’s the Simple Fine mantra? If it doesn’t pass the taste test, add ingredients (or rework the recipe) until it suits you!

Yield: approx 2 cups. This recipe can be doubled, tripled, infinitupled!

Until next time, dear friends. Salud!

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