For this month’s Mixology Monday, Craig over at Tiki Drinks & Indigo Firmaments chose as our theme Spice! He gratiously gave us plenty of room to flex our definition of spice to anything that can NOT be classified as a herb. Ummmmm herbs . . . .
Anyway, like many people, complete conjecture on my part here that could turn out completely false . . . anyway, like many people, I think this is a great theme for the Holidays. Spiced cider, mulled wine and egg nog are quintessential drinks for the holiday season. All are very flavorful and pack a whollup of spicy goodness. But rather than rehash some recipes for the aforementioned libations, I want to take my MxMo contribution on a much more rudimentary path. Rather than giving recipes for a single cocktail or two, I want to talk about an easy recipe that will let you add spice to just about anything.
Basically, I’m talking about a spice tincture. A tincture is basically a masceration of something in high-proof spirits. The high-octane spirit pulls out all of flavorful essential oils giving you something kin to bitters. Think of Angostura for a moment. Many of the flavors within Angostura are spices – cinnamon, clove, allspice, etc, etc. – with the inclusion of bittering agents. Take away the bittering agents and you essentially have a spice tincture (albeit one that is not nearly as high in proof as the original spirit.)
I have been making and tweaking a spice tincture for about a year now. I always keep some on hand and never have a true recipe. Here is what is in my current tincture:
Scofflaw Spice Tincture
Dried Orange Rind
Dried Lemon Rind
Wray & Nephew Overproof Rum
In order to decide what ratios to add things, I think about what flavors I want to be more prevalent. For example, I only want black pepper, orange and lemon to be a supporting flavors so I only add a little bit to the mix. Cover everything with W&N overproof and let sit for a week. After a week, I smell and taste the tincture. Does it need more vanilla? More cinnamon, cloves or nutmeg? Whatever I feel is needed to help balance out the flavors I add more of that spice. Usually I have to add more rum at this time as well. Then I’ll let it sit for another week or two before straining and bottling.
You can see from the photos above how dark the tincture becomes. This is some mighty powerful stuff!!! For the bottles, I like to use two different types. First, if you haven’t made your way to Speciality Bottles yet, give them a try. They have a great selection of bottles that are very well priced. I like to use a European dropper bottle and a spritz bottle. The dropper bottle allows you to shake drops into a drink much like a bottle of bitters (you could also use an empty bitter bottle!) The spritz bottle has two great uses. First, it allows you to rinse a glass with the spice tincture by spritzing the inside a few times. No waste and complete coverage. Second, because you used W&N overproof your tincture is flammable. And yes, you can use the spritz bottle to flame the tincture over the drink as a finish.
Use the tincture as a rinse for a Manhattan or Sidecar. Flame some over a tiki drink for a hit of aromatics that won’t alter the flavor. Out of spiced rum? Add a few healthy dashes to rum and you have a pretty good spiced rum. In fact, utilizing this last method, instead of buying spiced rum for egg nog, I used a healthy half ounce of spice tincture along with rum with fantastic results!
So there you have it. A way to add plenty of spice to your cocktails of choice. Give your own tincture a try and let me know how you use it!
Thanks again to Craig for hosting! Cheers!