It's cold. And when I think of a liquor that will warm you up, I think bourbon. (Although maybe that's just because I love bourbon so much.) Add spices and apple and you've got a delicious little concoction that is perfect for wintry weather...and perfect for everyone on your list.
3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons water
1/2 cup apple juice (unfiltered)
1 apple, cored and cut into cubes
1 teaspoon cinnamon
12 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 1/2 cups bourbon
Add the sugar, water and apple juice to a saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until all the sugar has melted. Add the apple, cinnamon, cloves and vanilla bean, and continue cooking until the apple just begins to caramelize. (The fruit will start to soften and brown slightly.) Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cool, add the apple mixture to a sealable glass jar. Add the bourbon, and then store in a cool, dark place for 24 hours, shaking occasionally. (You can infuse the bourbon for up to 2 days if you desire a stronger spice flavor). Once the infusion is complete, shake one more time and then strain out the liquid. A tea strainer will work well for this - if you want to strain out the little bits, you can strain a second time with a coffee filter. This recipe makes 2 cups, just enough to fill a pint-sized mason jar.
And once you've created your infusion, you're ready for...
The Spicy Bourbon Ginger
Add ice to a glass. Fill a little more than halfway with the bourbon infusion. Top with ginger ale and stir.
I can't think of enough good things to say about this drink. In fact, I am enjoying one as we speak. It's like a boozy gingerbread cookie in a glass - and booze and gingerbread are two of my favorite things. And really, the possibilities for this infusion are endless. Although I have not tried this yet, I imagine it would be fantastic added to a hot cider. I also imagine that you will find many, many other uses for it. Happy gifting!
Nancy Mitchell is giving bourbon to everyone on her list. You can find more of her recipes on her blog, The Backyard Bartender.
(Images: Nancy Mitchell)