Archive for the ‘drinks’ Category



August 3, 2012

in case you were wondering what i’m doing today:
detoxing from last night by drinking tea and eating locally grown fruit, picking up the prize for the writing contest i won, and spending the money on a carboy, airlock, and gallons of juice.


EdWort’s Award Winning Apfelwein Recipe (German Hard Cider) Apple Wine Recipe


Placed 1st in the Cider & Apple Wine category at the BJCP sanctioned Alamo Cerveza fest (out of 11 entries) and took 2nd place for Best of Show for the main category of Meads & Ciders (out of 50 entries).


5 Gallons 100% Apple Juice (no preservatives or additives)
2 pounds of dextrose (corn sugar)
1 five gram packet of Montrachet Wine Yeast

5 Gallon Carboy (I use a Better Bottle)
Carboy Cap or Stopper with Airlock

First sanitize the carboy, airlock, funnel, stopper or carboy cap.
Open one gallon bottle of apple juice and pour half of it into the carboy using the funnel.
Open one bag of Dextrose and carefully add it to the now half full bottle of apple juice. Shake well.
Repeat Steps 2 and 3, then go to step 5.
Pour in the mixture of Apple Juice and Dextrose from both bottles into the carboy.
Add all but 1 quart of remaining 3 gallons of apple juice to the carboy.
Open the packet of Montrachet Yeast and pour it into the neck of the funnel.
Use the remaining quart of juice to wash down any yeast that sticks. I am able to fit all but 3 ounces of apple juice into a 5 gallon Better Bottle. You may need to be patient to let the foam die down from all shaking and pouring.
Put your stopper or carboy cap on with an airlock and fill the airlock with cheap vodka. No bacteria will live in vodka and if you get suckback, you just boosted the abv.

There’s no need to worry about filling up a carboy so full when you use Montrachet wine yeast. There is no Kreuzen, just a thin layer of bubbles. I’m able to fit all but 4 oz. of my five gallons in the bottle. Ferment at room temperature.

It will become cloudy in a couple of days and remain so for a few weeks. In the 4th week, the yeast will begin to drop out and it will become clear. After at least 4 weeks, you can keg or bottle, but it is ok to leave it in the carboy for another month or so. Racking to a secondary is not necessary. It ferments out very dry (less than 0.999, see here)

Apfelwein really improves with age, so if you can please let it sit in a carboy for up to 3 months before bottling or kegging, then let it sit even longer.

Six months and it hits its stride. Eight months and it’ll blow your mind.

If you want to bottle and carbonate, ¾ cup of corn sugar will work fine. Use as you would carbonate a batch of beer.



How does it taste?
It ferments quite dry. Some people have tried different yeasts in order to achieve a sweeter taste. It may take you a few glasses to get a feel for the flavor. It is very reminiscent of a sort of apfelwein produced locally in Germany. There really is no comparable product in the United States. It’s drier and less sweet than commercial hard ciders. It gets better with age and at 6+ months, the apple flavor really comes out.

How do you sweeten it?
Many folks back sweeten it with Wine Conditioner. Wine Conditioner is a blend of sucrose and sorbic acid. The addition of 2-4 oz. per gallon adds sweetness and prevents renewed fermentation. It can be purchased as any LHBS that caters to wine makers. Others will use Splenda or lactose (other non-fermentable sugars). Germans who prefer it sweet (or Suß as they say) will add a splash of Sprite or 7up to a glass. This is the easiest method as you don’t have to make a whole “sweet” batch that way.

What is the difference between Apfelwein and hard cider?
EdWort says, “Most ciders are a bit sweeter. Ciders and Apfelwein are about 6% abv, but I like the little boost I give it with 2 pounds of Dextrose. It adds no body or flavor and still tastes like Possmann’s Apfelwein, only it will kick your butt much quicker.”

Is this like Apfelmost / Apfel Korn?
No. Apfel Korn is a german liqeur made from wheat spirits. Apfelmost is spontaneously fermented with fresh-pressed apples or apple juice. It is probably similar, but the results may vary as a result of the spontaneous fermentation. Either way, Apfelmost is most certainly has a lower alcohol content since the initial gravity is not increased by the use of concentrate or corn sugar.

What’s the difference between apple juice and cider?
Cider is made by pressing apples. Juice is then filtered to remove all of the stuff that makes it cloudy.

Can I use apple cider instead?
Sure! You can use whatever you want. However, there is not enough information in this thread to give you any better details as to how it will turn out. I recommend starting a new thread or ask more experienced cider-makers.

What kind of Apple Juice should I use?
Ideally, you want to use 100% natural apple juice with no preservatives. The only acceptable preservative is ascorbic acid, which is a source of vitamin C and does not affect fermentation. Pasteurized juice is preferred, since it will have less bacteria.

How much will this recipe cost me?
5 gallons of Apfelwein can be made for between 20 and 25 dollars.

What else can you do with this recipe?
Makes a great Grog in the winter time. Take a quart in a sauce pan, add some rum, turbinado sugar, and float a cinnamon stick in it and simmer for a while. Serve hot in mugs. It’ll warm you right up.


brew diary:



cold-infused simple syrup

February 18, 2012

i just learned today that heating sugar and water to make simple syrup changes the chemical composition and, therefore, the “mouth-feel” and, apparently, awesomeness suffers.

though i am a huge fan of boiling fresh ginger with my simple syrup, it was suggested to simply combine equal parts sugar and water in a bottle and shake on and off for five minutes.

well, i don’t know how much i care about mouth-feel, but i do know that i hate cleaning the saucepan after cooking up simple syrup. i’ll try it this way next time!

(add cardamom and ginger for the best lemonade-simple-syrup you’ve ever had! i learned this from googling the winners of a “favorite drinks” facebook poll that was mostly in a transliterated language. still my favorite simple syrup!)

thanks, chow tips!


diy juniper bitters

December 26, 2011


i have infused vodkas before, but never with JUNIPER! this sounds AWESOME!!

2 tbs fresh juniper berries

2-4” rosemary branches

2-4” thyme branches

2 tsp black peppercorns

1 pint vodka

1/4c dried juniper berries

Combine all the ingredients, except dried juniper berries, in a pint glass jar with a lid. Store is a cool dark place for one month. After one month, strain the vodka, discard herbs, then add the dried juniper berries for a double extract. After two months, strain again and you’re ready for cocktails!

see her post and photos here

today i added 3/4 pint of vodka to a jar with many fresh and dried juniper berries, a teaspoonful of smoked black peppercorns, a giant pinch of dried rosemary, a sprig of dried basil from the garden, and a sprig of dried mint from the garden. i’ll be tasting this often – just to make sure it’s going ok…
added a pinch of thyme.
my favorite infusion by far. even better than apple-strawberry-allspice vodka. left in for a few days, it’s an infusion. left in for a month, it’s bitters. a few drops will do. gin-like. wonderful!
forgot to mention that i temporarily gave up infusing vodka with things other than this, because this is so good.



December 4, 2011

i cannot count the number of times this has kicked the everloving s*%# out of a sickness-to-be. drink it at the first puffswell of lymph nodes. it’s also a great tonic pick-me-up for those winter blahs.

do not be fooled by the commonness of these ingredients; this is serious medicine. use more ginger than seems prudent; pack that teaball tight. it’ll help you feel better! you need a LOT of cayenne to break through a packed-solid sinus cavity, but you WILL breathe again.

feel better soon!

a few mugs of water
finely minced ginger
1/2 clove finely minced garlic (more if you’re seriously sick, less for a child or they won’t drink it)

boil this a minute and take off the burner.

add the juice of one fresh lime or lemon and steep five minutes with a lid
(don’t boil w lemon/lime; too bitter!)

remove ginger and garlic; add a fat spoonful of honey and a few dashes of cayenne or other hot pepper (required)

(if you’re feeling more chilly and funky than cripplingly ill, add a splash of bourbon, scotch, or brandy!)

the honey will soothe and coat the throat, as you already know. but did you know it will reduce inflammation as well as fight the infection itself – maybe even MRSA and other infections resistant to antibiotics? honey was even used on wounds as recently as world war I.

ginger has pain relieving qualities. it also increases sweating and helps flush toxins through & out of the skin.

hot peppers contain more vitamin c than lemons or oranges.

and, of course, the garlic is an antimicrobial and will flush the cold right out of you.

tim posted this fire cider – same idea, but infused into apple cider vinegar instead of water. sounds intense!

fall 2012 update:
tracy posted this idea:
keep a closed jar filled with honey, ginger, and lemon slices in the fridge and use the infused honey (diluted with boiling water) as sickytea!

if anyone tries these, please comment here and let us know how it is!


crema di limoncello

November 27, 2011

a lemon-creamsicle liqueur? whoa! my mom’s homemade irish cream, with whiskey, eggs, and a mess of other strange things, was completely magickal. this sounds easier: just infuse, heat milk, and combine? i’m in!

5 lemons
2 cups Everclear (You could substitute vodka in this recipe, but Everclear has a higher alcohol content than other vodkas. If you use another vodka, reduce the amount of milk used)
4 cups of whole milk
1.5 cups of sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla (or half a a vanilla bean)
Cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer

Zest the lemons (using a grater, or by peeling strips off with a knife/peeler). Place Everclear and lemon zest into a jar and seal. Store in a cool, dry place for one week (or more. I let mine steep for two weeks). Strain using cheesecloth or strainer to remove zest.

In a small pot or saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat. Add in the sugar and the vanilla, and cook (stirring frequently) until the sugar has dissolved. Remove milk mixture from heat and allow to cool.

Once cool, mix milk and infused Everclear together in a large bowl or pitcher. Funnel into bottles, jars, or other tightly sealed containers. Store in the fridge or freezer. Serve chilled.

Note: Limoncello is usually served as an after dinner cocktail. I like to serve it in small glasses, poured straight out of the freezer. The colder the better!


fermented pineapple juice (mabí / guarapo de piña)

September 21, 2011

i just started making my first vinegar, a cantaloupe vinegar (recipe to follow). in the time before it got sour, it smelled captivating. i wondered how it would taste, but for some reason, i stopped myself.

never again, now that i found this traditional Dominican recipe for just that – a lacto-fermented drink which, if left out, would become fantastic vinegar!! this definitely works with cantaloupes and pineapples – please post any successes you’ve had in this!

mabí / guarapo de piña


* 1 pineapple
* 2 quarts drinking water
* 1 cup sugar or equivalent sweetener


1. Wash the pineapple in running water scrubbing the peel clean.
2. Peel the pineapple (reserve the pineapple for other uses), rinse the peel again.
3. Put the pineapple in a pitcher big enough to fit the water and pineapple peels.
4. Cover and leave outside until you notice some froth on the surface.
5. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 days, or until you notice bubbles stuck to the sides of the pitcher.
6. Strain and pour the liquid into another clean pitcher. Add sugar to taste, ice and frozen pineapple cubes (optional).


vanilla chai vodka

June 5, 2011

modified from this

a capful (half-teaspoon?) vanilla extract (not artificially flavored)
1 part cinnamon
1.5 part star anise
1.5 part allspice
1 part black peppercorns
giant chunks of ginger
a large mason jar 3/4 full of vodka

shake twice a day.

EDIT 6/13: do NOT leave the spices in longer than a few days. it’s so spicy that it’s barely drinkable on its own. you may want to check this one twice a day to make sure it isn’t getting too strong. now to figure out a way to use the spices afterwards; anyone ever had luck with re-using them in anything, or does the vodka taste permeate everything?


infused vodkas _ may 2011

May 18, 2011

mango, lime, ginger:
required many many days to infuse. produced a lot of goopy sediment. overly sweet, like the strawberry infusion, but not quite as good, and lingers in the mouth in a sticky, unpleasant way. ginger (huge chunk) didn’t come through at all. tiny lime wedge overwhelmed everything.

cantaloupe, lime, ginger:
much smoother than the mango. the melon takes some bite out of the vodka. sweet, but not too sweet. two huge chunks of ginger in this one and still didn’t come through at all. not nearly as good as cantaloupe-ginger juice and probably will never do this infusion again.



May 9, 2011



april 2011 infused vodkas

May 9, 2011

apple-strawberry-allspice – AMAZING, but strawberry gives a very very sweet and almost artificial flavor

black peppercorns – good in cocktails, but boring on its own

apple-strawberry-cinnamon – used less fruit, so the flavor was less intense. still good.