Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Tropical Liqueur

Do you remember the rambutans and lychees I received from Frieda's Specialty Produce a while ago? I ate some of the them fresh, then tried to think of what else to do with them. My usual answer is baking, but I read that the flavor deteriorates with heat.

So I figured I'd do an infused liqueur. I hadn't made one for a while, and the distinctive flavor seemed like it would make a really interesting drink.

The nice thing about infused liqueurs is that once you've got them combined, you don't need to do much with them until it's time to strain. A quick shake once in a while is fine, and I've seen instructions that suggest shaking once a day, but I tend to be more random that that. When I think about it, I shake. When I forget, I don't worry about it.

I intended on letting this sit for 3 weeks, but it was a little closer to 4 weeks by the time I strained and bottled it.

When I tasted it, the lychee/rambutan flavor was definitely there. but it seemed just a little one-note. In retrospect, I realized I should have added something else. Maybe some lemon. Or ... another fruit? Or a spice.

Instead of tossing something else in and waiting for it to infuse, I decided to add some Tropical Punch Flavor from LorAnn. The mysterious tropical fruit named on the label is actually passionfruit, so it made perfect sense. The itty-bitty jars bottles hold quite a bit of flavor, so the 3/4 teaspoon was enough to add a background flavor, but it didn't overwhelm the other fruit.

I was really happy with it.

I'm likely to drink this as a dessert liqueur over ice or perhaps mix it with pineapple or orange juice. It would also be an interesting addition to a sangria or perhaps a fruit punch. Or, I'm sure I'll think of other things.

Tropical Liqueur

12 rambutans
24 lychees
1 cup sugar
2 cups water
Vodka to fill 1/2 gallon container
.125 ounce (3.7 ml or 3/4 teaspoon) Tropical Punch flavoring optional)

Peel and pit the rambutans and lychees and put them in a 1/2-gallon jar. Add the sugar and water. Add the vodka to fill the container, leaving space at the top of the container for easier shaking.

Seal and shake the container until the sugar dissolves.

Put the container in a cool, not-bright place and shake it once in a while. The liqueur should be ready after 3 weeks.

Strain out the fruit, then strain again through a coffee filter to remove any small bits or sediment. The liqueur might be a little hazy rather than crystal clear - that's perfectly fine.

Taste - and if you prefer it a little sweeter, you can add more sugar or simple syrup. If you want to add more flavor, I suggest trying the Tropical Fruit flavoring, but a hint of lemon or even vanilla would be nice. Or, leave it as-is and add flavors when you serve.