One thing that I really love doing is inventing and developing my own recipes. Once I figured out the basic principles of creating infused liqueurs (add fruit, herbs and sugar to your base spirit; shake until dissolved; ignore for a really long time; strain; ignore again; drink…) I’ve enjoyed creating a variety of infusions and liqueurs that are delicious and inventive in equal measure.
Although, a note of caution: when you’re using spices, be super careful how much you use, and how long you leave them in for. I made a chilli pepper-infused gin, once, and no-one wants a spicy gin and tonic. Trust me.
I also love Thai cuisine – the fresh flavours, the approach they have to food… all of it. And one of the most distinctive herbal flavours from Thailand is Horapa (or Thai sweet basil). So I had a play and an experiment, and came up with this recipe for Pear and Horapa Liqueur.
The ingredients couldn’t be more simple. The only one that might be harder to find if you’re not in either Thailand or a major urban centre with Thai or Asian specialist supermarkets is probably the Thai basil. If you can’t find it regular English basil, chive, and a little extra sugar will give you a slightly more savoury taste but should still work well with some nice sharpness in there. Let me know how it turns out!
- Pears (I used two conference pears, but this might change depending on the size of your pears, and your jars.)
- Horapa/Thai sweet basil 2 tablespoons (or English basil and chives, plus an extra half tablespoon of sugar)
- Demerara sugar (but any sugar, including caster sugar should be fine)
- Vodka (I used Smirnoff because it was on offer, and because I’m frugal but not so frugal that I’d opt for distilled paint stripper…)
- Chop up the pears into large chunks.
- Take a generous tablespoon or two of horapa leaves; crush them slightly to start releasing the flavour.
- Add all of this to a large jar. Your fruit should come to about two thirds of the way up your jar. Sprinkle sugar over until it covers the bottom half of the fruit and herbs.
- Fill the jar up with vodka. Close the lid and shake to see if there’s still a bit more space; keep topping up until it’s definitely full!
- Store somewhere cool and dark. Shake once a day (or twice if you’re feeling enthusiastic) until the sugar has dissolved, then ignore it for three to six months.
- Come back in three months and taste a bit of the liquid. Decide whether you like the strength of the flavours or want to leave it a bit longer. If the herbs are coming out too strong, remove the fruit and herbs, and add fresh pear and additional vodka back in. Make sure to check in on the spirit occasionally. For insurance, make a pear-only version so you can balance it all out.
- Once it has the right balance of flavours for you, strain out the fruit and pour the liquid into bottles. Ignore it for at least another six months before you drink.