Flavored Vodka

Volodia writes ..
    Samogon means self(samo) distilled(gon)i.e. moonshine, similarly samovar means a self-brewing tea urn. Vodka (in polish wodka, in ukrainian horilka) is the generic name for the distilled spirit. Its the diminutive contraction of its archaic name "zhizhnennia voda" (aqua vita). Specialty vodkas are flavored by later infusing the pure distillate with various herbs, berries, fruits. Villagers did not follow written recipes they just "added to taste". Russian, Ukrainian & Polish cookbooks (some in English) usually have recipes at the back under beverages. Polish, Ukrainian & Russian vodkas share a similar heritage (ignore national pride).

    See http://www.vodkaphiles.com/flavor.cfm for recipes for flavored vodkas from "A Taste of Russia" published by Russian Life Books and http://www.polishvodkas.com/
    In Siberia they make samogon using flour and kalina berries (guelder rose, high-bush cranberries). A recipe for the wash could be 1.5kg flour, 0.5kg berries to 5l boiling water to gelatinise the starch in the flour.This relies on amylase enzymes present in the flour, or you could add amylase (at 65C) to get a quicker conversion. The berries provide the yeast with nutrients & provide flavor to the vodka. Suitable alternatives would be rose-hips or cranberries.

    Ukrainians add 2 hot chilli-peppers to a litre of vodka for their "Horilka z pertsem" ( Chilli-pepper vodka).

    Russians add pepper corns. It was once mistakenly believed that they rectified rough samogon.

    My Lemon Vodka - Instead of infusion, I made a sugar wash(6kg/25l water) & added juice & peel of 25 lemons. ( 1 lemon = 3g citric acid) Distilled it once in a 2 stage equivalent reflux still & got a clear, delicate flavored vodka. Will try it with orages next.

    In the Caucus Mountains they make a vodka from elderberry mash. Try it with 2-4kg of berries, & 1kg sugar/5litres of water.

    300g of whole dried rosehips or 150g dried shells added to 5 litres of a sugar wash adds nutrients but not an overpowering flavor.

    To Chill Vodka in the East European Manner:
      You can put it in the coldest part of the refrigerator or encase it in its own mantle of ice - First boil some water, so that the resulting ice is transparent. Allow the water to cool and then pour about 25mm (1-inch) of water into a tall thin container - an empty 1-litre (1 quart) milk container is excellent - and freeze until firm. Place the vodka bottle firmly in the centre of the container, surround with water and freeze until solid. When you are ready to serve it. simply dip the container in hot water for a few seconds and the bottle will slip out of its ice-mantle easily.
Wal also reports recipes from a Russian language site: http://ok.novgorod.net/faq/samogon.html
    Rectification recipes for 3l of samogon vodka:
    • "Cognac" (1). 1tbsp sugar, 1tbsp tea, 3 bay leaves, 5 black pepper corns, 3-5 cloves, 3mm piece vanilla bean, some lemon or orange peel.
    • "Cognac" (2). 3 bay leaves, 6 all-spice seeds, 6 black pepper corns, 3tbsp sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla essence, 1tbsp cinnamon, 2tbsp tea, 6 cloves.
    • "Cognac" (3). 3 tsp sugar, 3tsp instant coffee, 3 bay leaves, 5 cloves, 8 black pepper corns.
    • Starka (for 500ml vodka). 5 drops of ammonium smelling salts.
    • Infusions. Wormwood; Currant; Plum; Morello cherries.
    • Liquers recipes are given for Strawberry, Raspberry, Milk, Grape, Coffee, Rose petal, Cucumber (fresh and fermented).
    • Colored vodka recipes using violets, mint, bilberry, sunflower seeds, saffron.

    Came across an 18th century vodka recipe from a Russian site. Erofei was Graf (count) Alexei Orlov's barber (tsirul'nik). He had a good knowledge of herbal medicine and came up with a cure for his noble client's ailment after mainstream doctors could not.

    Recipe for Vodka Erofeich:
    • 1litre vodka
    • 35g fresh mint
    • 35g fresh aniseed
    • 35g crushed Seville orange pips (bitter orange seeds)
    • Macerate for 2 weeks, then decant.
    Why orange pips? They contain gluey pectin which apparently is good for stomach ailments. The vodka helps too !

    A good Russian home distilling (samogon) site: http://www.stopka.ru/drink/samogon/samogon00.shtml. A reflux column (deflegmator) is mentioned but gives not much detail. Pot stills are king in Russia apparently.
from Cheryl ...
    Peppered Vodka. Over here, we make our peppered vodka the straight forward way - use peppers as hot or as cool,(I grow mine, jalapeno)as you can stand it, slice in half, and add a few to each bottle. After it turns a wee bit green (jalapeno) it's ready. If for some reason it's too hot, add a bit of sugar & lemon. Excellent for cesare's. I usually make mine BEFORE diluting, as it is hot and the extra h2o cools nicely.

    Flavored vodkas are large here too. There is a drink I call lemon drop. remove the rind from 3 large lemons, throw it in a gallon of vodka, wait 1 week, strain. Then decant into smaller bottles and freeze. Of course it won't actually freeze, but it gets thicker than normal. Then cut up some lemon wedges, sprinkle with sugar, and have a shot of the vodka, then the lemon. tastes like lemon drop candy, only with a huge punch.

    Another good one is red currant. 1 1/2 cups r.currants, from the bulk store, to 1 gallon of vodka, store for a month or so, til nice and red colored, strain, serve with fresh orange juice.
Mike suggests ..
    Vodka wort distilled and cut to 20%. Get yourself some Strawberry/Kiwi concentrate and follow the mixing instructions. Up here, we mix 1 part concentrate with 3 parts water. Substitute the water for your diluted mix... Now add 1tsp of citric acid per 250 ml of juice. This will become VERY sour. I like sour. Sour good, fire bad. Play with it and find what you like. Citric acid can be purchased at the chemist's or a spice shop. Raspberry Juice is KILLER with this recipe.
Bay Leaves

Wal writes
    A Russian site suggests the following 'Cognac' flavoring for 1 litre of vodka. Steep for 10 days
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 3 pinches black pepper
    • 1 clove
    • touch of vanilla
    • small piece of orange or lemon peel
    • 1 tsp sugar

    Strounge adds ...
      I've done some playing around using fresh bay leaves, I found one sprig consisting of four big leaves and four small leaves, lightly bashed and left in 500ml of my 55% potato/oat vodka gave a nice flavour. It makes it a little harsh but sweetening it with maple syrup made it more drinkable as well as giving it a nice colour and a very strange flavour.

    Grape Ratafia
    In the Charente (Pineau des Charentes), Burgundy (ratafia de Bourgogne) and Champagne (ratafia de Champagne) regions, an aperitive style is made by adding young (unaged) brandy to the grape must after it has been crushed. The action prevents fermentation and retains all the natural grape sugar. Here is a translation of 'Ratafia de raisin' from a French site:
    • 1 litre grape juice
    • 1 litre alcohol (45%bv)
    Heat juice gently up to boiling Pour into a large glass container Add alcohol Steep for 3 months, filter and bottle.

Fruit

Bill suggests ...
    Now here's an old trick that will make yer taste buds come alive. Take ya some peaches, or cherries, or muskeedine, or grapes, or whatever fruit you wish and throw in yer finished product. Let stand fer 6 months to a year. Just make sure the fruit is ripe when ya put in and ya may want to pit the bigger fruit (yer choice).
Bill H writes ...
    Just sampled some ginger liquor that has been macerating for about a month, smooth with a little after bite. Just added about an inch or two of finely chopped gingerroot to a 26oz bottle, a cup of sugar, topped with base alcohol at40% and let sit for awhile (1or 2 months) strain and enjoy.

    Also tried a coffee. Used the equivalent of 20 cups of coffee, finely ground beans directly into a 1 ltr bottle added a cup or two of sugar, topped up with 40% alcohol cap and let sit for a week, strained through a coffee filter (obviously) then added a couple of oz. of this to a mug of hot milk, A rather pleasant way to start your Saturday. Dont know how long this will last before it gets bitter, it probably wont be around long enough to worry about.

    Had a few people asking about making liquors. Basically its common sense. Liquors are made from any fruit, herbs, seeds, nuts or vegetables, There are no absolute rules to this. Two ways of doing it macerate, (soak the stuff in alcohol, I use 40% but thats up to your taste) or distill in a pot still after fermenting it. I tried the latter, but found that the stuff tends to stick on the bottom and does nothing for the flavor.

    I just fill up a mason jar (large quart size) with what ever fruit i am using, add a cup or two of sugar, top up with alcohol, make sure the fruit is covered, put it in a cool dark place for a couple of months, check once in awhile and shake it to dissolve the sugar. When its done strain off the fruit ( keep this for adding to ice cream for a different dessert) filter the liquid through a coffee filter, add 5 ml. of glycerine to smooth it a lttle. (optional) Simple as that! dont be afraid to experiment, thers no hard and fast rules here, just have fun trying different combinations you really cant go too far wrong.


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