I first had the pleasure of meeting Seattle cocktail author A.J. Rathbun at his Champagne Cocktail Soiree class in 2010. It was a fun event with a chance to try two of his bubbly cocktails from his new book Champagne Cocktail: 50 Cork-Popping Concoctions and Scintillating Sparklers and chat with him about mixology.
In addition to his mixed cocktail books, he's also written the book on infusions: Luscious Liqueurs: 50 Recipes for Sublime and Spirited Infusions to Sip and Savor.
Here’s a recipe from that book that would make a great homemade present: Sweet Macadamiana.
This macadamia-based liqueur seems like a fun and innovative flavor that would make a great gift with a set of tiki glasses and recipe card for the cocktail suggestion listed below the recipe. (Thanks so much to A.J. and his publisher for making this available!)
It also looks simple to make, and, like the Cicchetti Lime and Cardamom Rum, a lot of bang for not a punishing amount of effort. (Ditto for the Love Liqueur from that book - another project I made from the book. Completely simple and quick to make.)
But as noted! Liqueurs often need to sit for a while - this macadamia one will need to sit for about five weeks, so if you want to give it for holiday time or special event, make sure you leave enough time.
Also check out this Chow.com video of A.J. in action, giving you a quick and simple limoncello recipe in under a minute.
By A.J. Rathbun, The Harvard Common Press 2008
This island-style infusion of macadamia nuts and vodka results in a liqueur that could be sipped happily solo over ice, with a taste that won’t disappoint candy lovers but that has enough layering and nutty flavoring to avoid being cloying.
Makes about 2 1/2 pints
- One 6-ounce jar roasted unsalted macadamia nuts
- 2 cups vodka
- 3/4 cup honey
- 2 cups dark brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- Coarsely chop the macadamia nuts. Put the nuts and vodka in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid. Seal and place the container in a cool, dry, spot away from sunlight. Let sit for 2 weeks, twirling (like a hula dancer, but more briskly) once every day or two.
- Combine the honey, sugar, and water in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture almost to a boil. Lower the heat a bit, keeping the mixture at a low simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool completely in the pan. This step can be done anytime during the 2 weeks mentioned in step 1, as long as the syrup is refrigerated until it’s added to the liqueur.
- Add the syrup to the vodka, stir well, and reseal. Return to its spot. Let sit for 2 more weeks, twirling at least every other day.
- Carefully strain the liqueur through a double layer of cheesecloth into a pitcher or other easy-pouring vessel. Strain again through 2 new layers of cheesecloth into 1 large bottle or a number of small bottles or jars. Let sit for 1 more week before partaking.
A Cocktail Suggestion: Try 2 ounces of this shaken with ice and 1 ounce cream and strained into a cocktail glass (add 1 ounce crème de cacao if you’re of a chocolate-loving bent). For something a little stronger, combine 2 ounces bourbon, 1 ounce Sweet Macadamiana, and ice in an old-fashioned glass. Either way, you’ll be whistling a Don Ho song in no time.