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
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
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
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,
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:
Why orange pips? They contain gluey pectin which apparently is good
for stomach ailments. The vodka helps too !
- 1litre vodka
- 35g fresh mint
- 35g fresh aniseed
- 35g crushed Seville orange pips (bitter orange seeds)
- Macerate for 2 weeks, then decant.
A good Russian home distilling (samogon) site:
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
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.
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.
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:
Heat juice gently up to boiling
Pour into a large glass container
Steep for 3 months, filter and bottle.
- 1 litre grape juice
- 1 litre alcohol (45%bv)
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.