Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Homemade Anisette Liqueur and Simple Syrup

Did you know that liqueur can have simple syrup in it? I had no idea until this past week...but I suppose it makes sense that alcohol can be mixed with sugar. Simple syrup is a combination of water and granulated sugar that has been heated until it's, well, a simple syrup. This liquid sugar is useful for adding to beverages like homemade lemonade, mojitos, and more, because it has already dissolved the sugar, and the heating process has allowed there to be more sugar per liquid unit than there would be if you simply stirred granulated sugar straight into a cold drink. In Israel, I was served "liquid sugar" at times with iced coffee, with the same purpose of increasing the sweetness potential of my beverage. It can also be used to poach fruit, or to soak cakes that benefit from a little drizzle, and it can be flavored as desired.

When I discovered that the pine nut cake I had been dying to make required anisette liqueur, and that said liqueur was $15/bottle at the store when I finally made it to the store to buy it, I headed straight over to the spice aisle to look for anise oil or extract. I had found this recipe when I googled anisette liqueur, and it sounded easy and cheap since I already had a large bottle of vodka sitting around for my vanilla extract (alcohol consumption for me is much lower in priority than sugar consumption, not surprisingly, so it does not get drunk in my kitchen!).

I'm not advocating this as a substitute for good drinking liqueur, since I have only used it for baking flavor purposes, and I have a feeling that it is not exactly the same experience for someone who really appreciates anisette. It is, however, a much more affordable baking version, so keep this in mind as an option for your cooking projects.

Simple Syrup
The first step to anisette is making the simple syrup, for which you'll want to use a 2:1 sugar-to-water ratio. Take a small saucepan, and combine 2 C granulated sugar with 1 C water (use the same measuring cup to measure both the sugar and the water). Over a medium-low heat, stir the mixture occasionally as the sugar dissolves. Avoid bringing the syrup to a boil, but keep heating and stirring it until it becomes crystal clear (may be as much as 20-30 minutes). If it comes to a boil, remove it from the fire immediately. Boiling causes the syrup to form crystals more easily, so you may still use it, but it may not be as smooth in beverages as you would like. You can avoid boiling by using a double boiler. Store it in a clean, airtight container at room temperature, so that it may last 1-2 years. Do not let it get contaminated by touching it with your fingers, or it will spoil.

Once the simple syrup has cooled, it's time to make the anisette!

Homemade Anisette Liqueur

15.7 oz (466 ml) unflavored vodka
7 drops anise oil OR 1 tsp anise extract*
9.6 oz (284 ml) simple syrup
1 tsp glycerin (optional - I didn't use it)

Add the vodka to the bottle in which the anisette will be stored; add the anise oil or extract and shake vigorously until the oil is dissolved (1 minute) or the extract is well combined with the vodka. Add the rest of the ingredients and shake well.


*anise oil is about 4 times stronger than anise extract - the amount of extract here is estimated. anise is a black licorice-like flavor, for those of you who are unfamiliar with it.

1 comment:

  1. I like to use Star Anise in my coffee with a dash if half and half. Sip and enjoy! Can I use it or the seeds and shake the bottle ever so often?