Category Archives: Liqueur

Similar enough to winemaking that you can apply what you already know, but different enough to be interesting. Liqueurs are easy to make and are ready to drink a lot faster than wine.

Plum Liqueur Recipe

Liqueur is simpler than wine because it’s not fermented, and though some will age well, most are ready to drink quickly. That’s why I wanted to make liqueur from my small plum harvest. Like all fresh fruit liqueurs, this one will need some time for extraction – pulling the sugar, color, and flavor from the fruit into the liquid. In a way, that extraction step is a bit like the primary fermentation step in making wine. Making liqueur starts to look very different from winemaking, however, when you think about alcohol, sugar, clearing, and aging. I’ll have more to say on that later, but first, here’s the recipe:

Ingredient Amount US Measure
Plums 1 kg 2.2 lb
Table Sugar 500 g 1.1 lb
Vodka (80 proof) 2 L 2 L*
Fruit Protector 22 ml 1.5 Tablespoons

* Yes, “2 liters” is the US Measure of vodka. Don’t believe me? Go into any liquor store in the US and try to buy vodka by the quart. Go right now, I’ll still be here when you get back 🙂

I based this recipe on a recipe for Umeshu, Japanese liquor made from unripe plums. It’s different enough from other liqueurs I’ve seen and different enough from Umeshu (made from unripe ume plums – which I understand are more like apricots than plums) to be interesting. It’s also easily scalable. How often do you have exactly 1 kg of plums? When I made this recipe, my plums weighed in at 825 g, so I scaled everything by 0.825:

  • 825 g plums
  • 413 g sugar
  • 1650 ml vodka


You’ll need a container that can hold all of the ingredients (like a bucket with a lid), a strainer, and a jug with stopper. After that, it’s quick and easy:

  • Clean and sanitized the container.
  • Add plums.
  • Pour sugar over plums.
  • Add vodka.
  • Stir.
  • Cover and let sit in a cool dark place for a 2-4 weeks, stirring occasionally.
  • Strain into a cleaned and sanitized jug. Let sit in a cool dark place for 4 more weeks.
  • Bottle.

Sugar and alcohol

There’s more alcohol in liqueur than in wine (about 20% by volume), and you add it directly (as vodka, usually). Liqueurs are sweeter too – from 15 – 30% sugar (by weight). Sometimes higher. Making a recipe revolves around the amount of alcohol, sugar, and water you want in the final product. This recipe will yield about 25% alcohol (by volume) and 18% sugar (by weight). I wouldn’t go below 20% alcohol, but feel free to vary the sugar and alcohol to your taste.

If you’re wondering why I report alcohol content by volume and sugar content by weight, it’s because you’d get some weird results if you tried to figure sugar content by volume. Try dissolving 2 cups of sugar in 1 cup of water (you may need to boil briefly). Once it’s back a room temperature, you’ll have about 2 cups of syrup. So is it 50% water and 100% sugar? If you do it by weight, it’s roughly 60% sugar, 40% water – adds up to 100%, like it should. I’d do alcohol that way too, but it’s just too common to report alcohol by volume.

Fruit Protector

Were you wondering about that ingredient? It’s a combination of sugar, vitamin C, and citric acid that’s used in home canning to keep fruit from browning. I’ve seen it in some liqueur recipes, so I decided to try it in mine. As a winemaker, I’m tempted to use sulfite for the same purpose, and I also wonder about how acidity affects the final taste. It’s available in supermarkets, and you can order it online.

Those are things I’ll look into later. Right now, it’s time to open a bottle of plum liqueur and hit the send button 🙂


Last year, I made mulled wine. That was a first for me, and this year I thought I’d write about an old Christmas favorite.

Item Quantity
Eggs, seperated 12
Cream 8 cups (1900 ml)
Liquor 3 cups (700 ml)
Sugar 0.75 lb (1.75 cups, 340 g, 400 ml)
Vanilla Extract 2 tsp (10 ml)
Salt 0.5 tsp (2.5 ml)
Nutmeg as a garnish

The liquor can be brandy, whiskey, rum, or any combination. Be creative, but stick to 80-proof liquor (the full amount 151 Rum will ruin the recipe).


Step 1
Beat yolks with a hand mixer until light in color
keep beating and slowly add:

  • 0.75 lb sugar
  • 3 cups liquor

let sit for one hour

Step 2
while beating the yolk-sugar-liquor, slowly add:

  • 8 cups cream
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

refrigerate for three hours

Step 3
Add 0.5 tsp salt to egg whites beat until “almost stiff” – soft peaks
fold into the rest of the mixture

Step 4
pour into cups and sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg

Variation – Cooked eggs

Use this variation to minimize the risk of food poisoning from salmonella in the eggs.

Substitute 4 cups of milk for 4 cups of cream. Discard the egg whites.

In step one:

  • Beat the eggs and sugar, but not the liquor
  • Gradually bring the milk to a boil
  • Slowly add it to the sugar-yolk mixture, beating constantly
  • Heat in a double broiler for 3 minutes or until thick – stir constantly, do not let it boil
  • let sit for one hour

Step two is the same, except that you add all the liquor and the salt

Skip step three. Step four is the same.

Variation – Egg products

Another way to make a safer eggnog using processed eggs, sold as a liquid, instead of raw eggs.

  • Substitute an equivalent amount of egg product for the eggs.
  • Step one is the same, except that you use egg product instead of eggs.
  • Step two is the same, except that you add the salt
  • Skip step three. Step four is the same.

Commercial eggnog

It would be a lot easier if someone else did all the whipping, folding and so forth, wouldn’t it? That’s one reason to buy a carton of ready made eggnog. If you can’t or don’t want to spend time in the kitchen, you can buy one, bring it home, and just add booz! I don’t know how this compares to homemade concoctions, but it’s a simple matter to find out. If you’re going to make it from scratch, buy a commercial product too. Add the same liquor, in the same proportions and see for yourself. Don’t forget to come back and let the rest of us know what you find out.

Raw egg safety

Another reason to buy a commercial product is the slight risk of food poisoning from salmonella in raw eggs. The eggnog you buy in the store is safe because it’s either made without eggs (yeah, well they have sugar-free “caramel” too!) or because it’s been made safe by cooking, pasteurizing, or some other process. In the US, you might find pasteurized or irradiated eggs for sale that are safe. These are still raw and should be stored and treated that way. They are also rare. For the most part, consuming raw eggs (even really fresh and/or organic eggs) carries the risk of food poisoning.

What to do if you want to make eggnog? You can use the store bought concoctions. If you can find them, you can try the irradiated or pasteurized eggs. The liquid or powdered “egg products” are an option. You can cook the eggs as you make the eggnog, or you can just use raw eggs and take the risk. I haven’t decided exactly what I’ll do yet, but I probably wont go with raw and uncooked.

Further Reading

The Joy of Cooking has a great eggnog recipe, but the one in my edition (1975) was a little too strong.

I borrowed from this recipe, at allrecipes, in adapting mine to use cooked eggs.

I also like the recipe in the New York Times Cookbook. I have the 1961 edition by Craig Claiborne. His is a little more “eggy” and less sweet than mine.