Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Pumpkin Liqueur

Several years ago, I decided to gin up (haha) some pumpkin martinis. I scoured the Internets for recipes and found several possibilities. The key ingredient was always Bols Pumpkin Smash Liqueur. Promptly after I tried these recipes, refined a few, then created a new one, the Bols Pumpkin Liqueur vanished. I got the last couple of bottles in my state run Washington supply and that was it.

I couldn't find any replacement so I decided to make my own. I searched again for liqueur recipes, bought a book called Classic Liqueurs for reference, then crafted up a plan to try variations of ingredients in a series of experiments. Each generation was split into 4 batch variations, initially focusing on the pumpkin flavoring. What I discovered along the way is that pumpkin by itself tastes like squash -- go figure. What we really think of as "pumpkin" is the spices that go along with the pumpkin. So it is better to call this Pumpkin Spice Liqueur.

By the 3rd generation I was making good progress. I kept plying everyone around me with tastings, and I finally settled in on a recipe. It came out similar to Bols, but I like to think it tastes better. More flavoring (from actual pumpkin and spices) and not so sweet. Slightly
higher alcohol content as well.

So here is the result from all my experiments, the recipe for pumpkin (spice) liqueur. I still tweak it a little each time, but this is where it stands now.


Monarch 100 Proof Vodka - 1.75 litre
Libby's Easy Pumpkin Pie Mix - 30oz can (This worked the best -- really!)
8 Cinnamon Sticks
4 1/2 vanilla beans (split) or about 3 TBLS (close to an ounce) of Vanilla
10 whole allspice
10 whole cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground fresh nutmeg

4 1/2 Cups Sugar
6 cups water

3 tsp food grade glycerin (Beer supply outlets have this)
Coloring - I use Heritage Farm Food Colors
35 total drops color (28 yellow, 7 red)

You'll need a BIG jar. I use a big pickling jar (sorry don't know the size here). Clean and sterilize the jar and lid really well. Then toss in all the ingredients in the first part of the list. Stir/shake it around to mix well, it will look pretty disgusting. Close up the jar and put it in a cool area to steep for two weeks. Stir/shake it every couple of days.

After two weeks, we strain the concoction through a filter bag. I got mine from a beer supply place, not too fine at this point. I also clean the cinnamon sticks but toss them back in for the final phase. At this time, we also make and add the syrup. Put the sugar and water in a large pan and heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Let cool. Pour the syrup into the big jar and stir it up. Close it back up and put it back in the dark/cool location for three more weeks. Once again, stir/shake occasionally.

After the 3 weeks, it is time to filter, finish, and bottle the liqueur. Filtering is tough. The Bols liqueur had a nice orange crystal clear look that I can't quite achieve. My current method is to use a gold coffee filter with extra paper coffee filters in it. This takes quite a while and you'll use many paper coffee filters before you are done. But it comes out nice when complete.

The final finishing step is to add the glycerin, and the orange coloring. Then find some nice bottles to put your finished product in.
The final proof should be somewhere around the neighborhood of 24% alcohol by volume or about 48 Proof.

I was running low this year so I recently started a new batch (4 weeks to go and counting.) I had been searching the Internets again and happened to search for pumpkin liqueur....guess what, there is a new one on the market. So if you don't want to go to all the trouble, you can head to your favorite libation source and buy Hiram Walkers Pumpkin Spice Liqueur. They are apparently going to make this available on a seasonal basis. I picked one up to give it a try. I have to say that I'm not too impressed. It has an overwhelming nose and flavor of caramel that I can't get past. The Bols version had better flavor, but it was over-the-top sweet. I think mine is somewhere between these two. But now that you have the recipe, you can tweak it to your own preferences.

My martini recipes will be coming up soon in another post. I have three martini recipes, though I focus on two, the frou-frou over-the-top sweet stylish pumpkin martini, and my personal favorite, what I call the Subtle Pumpkin Martini. Stay tuned....


lstaylor said...

Oh, wow. This sounds amazing.

Have you tried it with fresh pumpkin? I went looking for a recipe for the leftover pulp from our jack-o-lanterns, and yours was the best result, but I notice that you use the canned variety. Nonetheless, I will try it that way and make some pumpkin muffins in the meantime. :D

Scott said...

Yes, I tried many variations on the source pumpkin flavorings. Fresh pumpkin, canned pumpkin, and of course, the pumpkin pie mixes. And for each of these, I tried different spice variations. But the raw pumpkin always tasted awful...squash liqueur. Maybe I just needed to add a lot more of the spices, but I had achieved a great result with the pumpkin pie mix, so I went with that.

JP said...

Have you tried Harvest Grand Pumpkin Spice Cream Liqueur

Looks like pumpkin spice Irish cream