We are trying something new this year... and I must admit I'm a little bit nervous. As a family, we decided that we wanted to simplify Christmas and focus on the joy of being together. So, for the first time ever, the adults are not exchanging gifts. Gulp and Yikes! I am not buying my babies gifts! Again, Gulp and Yikes! We can, however, make something small for one another... jars of jam, a tin of shortbread, or in our case, homemade liqueurs.

Actually, there is a reason we went this route. First off... I was going to make a "six pack" of unusual jams and jellies for each family. I had visions of jalapeno jelly, apple butter and tomato jam. Well, summer came and went with nothing to show for it! (Uh, I did get as far as to buy lovely tall canning jars... I'll be ready next year :) Anyway, I needed a Plan B.

My father helped me formulate Plan B. Soon after I was married, my father started making his own Kahlua. A month or two before Christmas, he'd make up a batch, and give a bottle to each family as a gift. He did this for many years, until his disease, frontal lobe dementia, robbed him of his normal routines. Sadly, as each year goes by, my dad slips farther and farther away from us. There is now little left of the father I knew, but I decided to carry on his tradition, thereby including him in our celebration, even in this small way.

So, with the help of my trusty sidekick, Timothy, we made a batch of Kahlua. I swear it was an accident, although I've been accused otherwise, but I miscalculated, and we made twice as much as we needed. Oops! Something tells me it won't go to waste! We also found and made a recipe for a Butterscotch Liquor that I can't wait to taste!

So, this Christmas, things will be a little different. Hopefully, as a family, we will take joy in our new tradition, simplifying, and perhaps add another tradition that has its roots in an old tradition started by my dad :)   

BTW... Before anyone asks... We bought our bottles and bottle tops online from Quality Wine and Ale Supply. We purchased the assorted wine bottle collection and the expansion stoppers. They look so pretty lined up on my cabinet!

KAHLUA – Makes 1/2 gallon
 
Ingredients:
2 cups boiling water
3 cups sugar
1/3 cup instant coffee
1 fifth 100 proof vodka
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (very important not to use imitation vanilla)
 
Directions:
Combine boiling water with instant coffee. As soon as the coffee dissolves, add sugar. Allow to cool to room temp. Add vodka and vanilla. Pour the mixture into a big bottle (at least 1/2 gallon jug) and cover. Set aside for at least 30 days. Shake the bottle each day. Keep tightly closed. 

BUTTERSCOTCH LIQUEUR – 1 Quart
 
Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1/2 cup brandy
1 cup 100 proof vodka
1/2 teaspoon butterscotch flavored extract
 
Directions:
Bring sugar and water to boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat stirring constantly. When the sugar water mixture turns clear, remove from heat. Cool to room temp. Add brandy, vodka, and extract. Pour the mixture into a 1 quart container and cover. Set aside for at least 30 days. Shake the bottle each day. Keep tightly closed.

Comments

Perfect. Every year we give small gifts to our employees. We are so doing this. Thanks. The photos are incredible, btw.

Sorry to hear about your dad. We went through the same thing with my mum. Not an easy path to travel. God Bless.

What a touching story! I'm sure your new and "renewed" traditions will be wonderful!
Happy Holidays!
~ joey ~

These look delicious!

Any idea how long they last? Do I need to keep shaking them daily after the 30 day wait period?

Thanks very much!

One bottle my dad made was hiding in the back of our cabinet. When we took it our, we realized it was 10 years old. It was the BEST Kahlua we ever tasted. It was so rich and mellow. I can't tell you if it will last longer than 10 years, because the family quickly enjoyed the bottle, but you certainly don't need to worry about it going bad. As a matter of fact, the liqueur is ready to drink in 30 days, if you can be patient, it really is better several months, even a year later.

After shaking the bottles every day day for 30 days, you no longer need to do that. But, we always give the bottle a couple of shakes before we pour a drink.

Enjoy. It is easy to make and very yummy :)

Kimara
Wee Folk Art Publisher
 

can you tell me exactly what "one fifth of 100 proof vodka" means? i know what 100 proof is...but how do you measure out one fifth?!

A "fifth" is a fifth of a gallon, or 4/5 quart: approximately 750 ml.

A fifth is a common way to buy alcohol. It is the tall, thin bottles. So, you need 1 bottle or 1 fifth.

Hope that makes sense now :)

Kimara
Wee Folk Art Publisher
 

Wow, Kimara!I love kahlua and I've so thrilled to find your recipe for it. Thank you so much!

We use grain alcohol (190 proof) and bakers flavorings (the extract contains alcohol) to make a bunch of different liquors. We "specialize" in sambuca but have made peach brandy, guilliano, coffee brandy and lemon cello. It's a great holiday tradition. We even have a liquor making party so everyone can taste test.

CAn you use 80 proof for the butterscotch? Or do you need to use 100?

To be honest, I don't know. It seems to me you should be able to. It shouldn't affect the flavor. And as far as "shelf life" is concerned, it doesn't seem like there should be any significant differences. You could certainly do a more thorough investigation online if you have any concerns, but I think you will find that it just won't be quite as "potent" as the 100 proof.

Kimara
Wee Folk Art Publisher
 

Is there a way to change the butterscotch recipe a little bit so that it is thinker and creamy. I love this recipe, but I'd like it to be cream-based, if possible, so it's not just flavored vodka.

I have never made a creamy liquor before... but I love drinking them :) Typically, I serve our liquors with half and half. If people want to make them creamy, they ad fresh cream. If you do come up with a recipe for one, please share. I'd love to hear how it turns out.

Kimara
Wee Folk Art Publisher
 

any suggestions on a type of coffee to use in this recipe? I got something cheap, but it smelled really burnt, so I pitched it rather than ruin an entire bottle of vodka. Now I am trying to figure out a good instant coffee brand.

We just used Folgers Classic Roast and it came out yummy. We gave away about half our bottles last year, and now that we have some that is a year old, it is so mellow and delicious. Although both the butterscotch and the kahlua say it is ready in 30 days, we found the butterscotch tastes great in 30 days, but it is best to give the kahlua more time :) 

Kimara
Wee Folk Art Publisher