Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Coffee Infused Vodka

2 cups whole coffee beans
1 liter vodka

Infuse for one to several weeks.

I talked to the head roaster at Peace Coffee to get his opinion on what sort of beans would be best to infuse in vodka. He recommended using espresso beans. He said this would best bring out the caramel and smoky flavors in the coffee.

The flavor does not disappoint. After a week the infusion smells fantastic. A nice, full flavor. Very much like drinking shots of cold-pressed coffee.

I haven't found just the right cocktail for this one yet. Came up with something I called a Pasty Pole, which is awfully nice, but I hope to come up with a signature cocktail to show this off.

Caramel Vodka

1 batch homemade caramel
1 liter vodka

This recipe uses homemade caramel. I have heard of other recipes that use caramel sauce or caramel cubes. I prefer the bite of the caramel without any dairy added.

After you remove the caramel from the stove, DON'T add the cream you would add if you were making caramel sauce. And keep in mind that the caramel is going to be VERY hot when it comes off the stove. I pour a liter of vodka into two quart jars and have these set aside ready for the caramel. You can put the vodka in some other heavy container but I wouldn't try to pour the caramel straight into the vodka bottle.

I pour half the caramel into each of my two jars of vodka. The caramel forms a hard lump on the bottom of each jar, but this dissolves fairly quickly.

This vodka is ready to drink as soon as the caramel is dissolved.

Homemade Caramel

Start with two cups of sugar and half a cup of water in a pan. Put over medium heat and stir until sugar s dissolved. Once it starts boiling, do NOT stir but just sort of swirl around in the pan. After 10 - 15 minutes the mixture will start to brown. Remove from heat when you get a nice nutty color.

The browning happen all at once, and so do keep your eye on things. And this stuff is incredibly hot when it's done, so be careful. When the caramel cools it will be hard. If you are making caramel sauce, stir in heavy cream right away.

Pasty Pole

1 part coffee infused vodka
1 part cinnamon infused vodka
1 part caramel infused vodka
2 parts milk

Use organic whole milk if you can.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Filtering Vodka

I think I first heard about this as an internet hoax at least five years ago.  Someone had a website with pictures of some guys drinking shots of cheap, nasty vodka and commenting on how they repeatedly ran the vodka through a Brita filter.  They claimed that, after each round, the vodka just tasted better and better.

Well, duh.  I was not sucked in.  For the cost of the filters I could just buy better vodka.  But when I started infusing vodkas, it seemed worthwhile to see if I could take the edge off the cheap vodka and make it more palatable.  

I sent an e-mail to some friends asking if they had an extra water filter pitcher around the house that they weren't using.  I explained my intentions, and within 48 hours I had three filter pitchers on my doorstep.

I tested the filtering theory alongside my neighbor Dave.  We used Phillips Vodka 80.  I buy it because it's made locally.  At $7 for a fifth, it's cheap but still comes in a glass bottle.

First we tasted the unfiltered Phillips.  I warned Dave that I would be blogging about this and that he would be expected to describe the experience.  After a sniff and a sip, he threw back the rest of the shot and said, "Teeth.  It's got teeth."

My first reaction was to note that drinking this vodka was similar to getting my nose too close to a bottle of rubbing alcohol.  Like a medical emergency, drinking cheap, room-temperature vodka straight makes me feel like something is very broken.  Suddenly I was Kitty Dukakis drinking rubbing alcohol straight out of the medicine cabinet during the 1988 presidential campaign.  I would go so far as to call it a Kitty Cocktail, but that would not be funny.  For at least three reasons.

Then we sampled some vodka that had been through all three of the filter pitchers.  Dave sniffed and sipped, putting on his best impartial judgment face, then threw back the shot. "The teeth," he said with rising inflection and rising eyebrows, "They're gone."  He looked for the teeth on the bottom of the glass.  And then he looked for them on the floor.

As for me, I took the second shot and tasted none of the rubbing alcohol burn.  This was some significantly improved vodka.

Bacon Infused Vodka

750 ml vodka
six strips bacon

Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain grease. Infuse in vodka for one to several weeks.

If the resulting infusion is greasy, try freezing it. That should make the grease for solid pieces, which can then be filtered out.

Definitely worth experimenting with.

Chocolate Vodka

750 ml vodka
12 ounces chocolate syrup

This is not an infusion, but rather a solution. You just mix the vodka with some chocolate syrup. As such, it's ready to use as soon as it's mixed together.

It's everything you expect: sweet, chocolaty, syrupy. I'd like to figure out how to separate out some of the solids and leave it clearer and cleaner in the mouth.

I've heard of others who infuse vodka with pieces of chocolate. I am assuming that the pieces of chocolate eventually dissolve into the vodka and so what results is still a solution. I might try that to see if it yields a less muddy result.

I am also curious to figure out how to filter this stuff. It pours right through a wire strainer, but immediately stops when I try to pour it through a coffee filter or cloth. Suggestions are appreciated.

Ginger Infused Vodka

750 ml vodka, filtered
1/2 cup ginger root, peeled and sliced
1 teaspoon sugar

Allow to infuse for one to several weeks. This is one of my favorites.

Ginger-Mint Lemonade

1 part Mint Infused Vodka
2 parts Lemonade

Honestly I did not think I would make the mint infused vodka more than once.  The ginger lemonade is an obvious and delicious combination.  A guest last weekend threw in some of the mint vodka and I really thought she would take a sip and leave the rest of the glass.  On the contrary, she was soon making a round for everyone in the house.

Bacon-Chocolate Shot

1 part bacon infused vodka
salted rim (optional)

Pour the bacon vodka first. When you pour in the cocolate vodka, it will sink below the bacon. This is not a drink for sipping - you really need to mix the two flavors to make this work.

A couple of years ago my ex-brother-in-law gave me a bacon-chocolate bar for Christmas. It was good, but mostly my reaction was that it could have been a lot better. Then, last summer, state fairs across the country introduced America to thick-cut, chocolate-dipped bacon chunks. As a Minnesotan of some girth, that just felt self-destructive. Which of course did not stop me.

The bacon-chocolate shot is a drink that is greater than the sum of its parts. The bacon infused vodka on its own is somewhat greasy and salty and has little to mask the vodka burn in the back of your throat. And the chocolate vodka alone is sort of muddy and syrupy (I could probably improve on that). But when combined these two are like some sort of superhero team in which each member's skills cannot be fully appreciated without the other.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wild Card Vodka

Test Batch:
375 ml vodka
one red sock

In early October, I really thought this recipe had a lot of potential. At this point I am afraid to open the jar for fear it will stink up my basement.

Using a Hydrometer to Estimate Alcohol Content

I don't know a simple way to measure how much alcohol is in wine or cider or beer that I have made in my basement. But I do know how to use a hydrometer before and after fermentation to estimate how much alcohol I've made.

I will explain this in non-scientific terms. It shouldn't be hard to find a more precise description of how to use a hydrometer to estimate alcohol content. But I hope this qualitative explanation is more user-friendly than most.

A hydrometer is a glass instrument that floats in liquid. A scale on the side indicates the density of the liquid, or the "specific gravity". This tells you how much sugar is in the liquid. My hydrometer also has a scale labeled "potential alcohol". I will refer to potential alcohol rather than specific gravity.

I haven't figured out captions yet. These pictures show my hydrometer, then the 6 percent potential alcohol reading in some fresh cider. Finally you can see the 11 percent reading after I added four pounds of sugar to five gallons of cider.

During fermentation, yeast eat sugar, and leave behind two by-products: carbon dioxide and alcohol. Starting the process with more sugar means the yeast will have more food to eat. It also means they will make more alcohol. Up to a point. Fermentation stops at about 12 percent alcohol no matter how much sugar you put in. Like most living things, yeast can only live in their own waste up to certain limits.
In my experience, fresh cider generally has a potential alcohol of 4-6 percent. That means, after fermentation, the finished cider would have 4 - 6 percent alcohol. By adding sugar you can increase the amount of alcohol in the final product. I find that, in a five-gallon carboy, one pound of sugar increases potential alcohol by about one percent.

Don't bother going above 12 percent potential alcohol. Like I said, fermentation stops at that point.

As fermentation progresses, the potential alcohol in the liquid goes down. When the number reaches zero, you know that fermentation is done. If my 11 percent reading goes down to zero, then I'll know that my finished cider has 11 percent alcohol. At that point the finished product will taste "dry" (I won't be able to taste any sugar).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Letters From Readers

Aaron from Washington Heights writes:

Dear Ray,

Awright, I'm game, is it easy to make hard cider? Cuz I've heard it's hard
to make easy cider.

Washington Heights reader


Both, in fact, are true. Making hard cider is like making compost. It shouldn't be more work than you want to put into it. And once you know how the basics, the secret is just letting the little critters living in there do their thing.

I promise to publish posts on both hard cider and easy cider in the near future.

Another reader writes:
Dear Ray,

I just used to calculate the amount of liquors i will need at my
next party of 40 guests, for 10 hours with a 40-20-40 beer-wine-liquor ratio.
But it says that I only need 112 servings of beer, 56 servings of wine, and 112
servings of 750ml bottles of liquor, which seems a little low. Is this somehow
related to infusing bacon into vodka?


Dear Thirsty,

Yes, that's right.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hard Apple Cider Tips

As I noted in my post on Hard Apple Cider Basics, you can improve the quality and to increase the potency of your hard cider.

1. Mix together different types of apples. I don't know exactly how this works, but it works. Different apples have different levels of sugar, are more or less tart, etc. So one type of apple balances another.

2. Sanitize everything. Use campden tablets to sanitaize all of your equipment. They can go right into your cider and will kill off any unwanted bacteria or mold. This will also kill off any naturally-occurring yeasts, and so you'll need to add yeast.

3. Use a hydrometer to figure out your potential alcohol. Add the appropriate amount of sugar.

4. Add yeast. I never know what kind of yeast to buy in the brewing supply store. I usually use champagne yeast in cider. I like to start the yeast in a glass of cider. When the glass is nice and foamy I pour it into the rest of the cider.

5. Use a stabilizer when fermentation is done. Available in a brewing supply store. This kills off any remaining yeast and keeps fermentation from starting up again after bottling.

6. Back-sweeten. If all goes well, you cider will taste dry when fermentation is done. You may prefer to drink it sweeter than that. I like to add some brown sugar or honey.

7. Bottle. I collect empty wine bottles from frienda and buy new corks. I've used three different corking tools and here I do find that spending more money makes the job easier.

8. Age. Sometimes the cider tastes great as soon as I bottle it. Sometimes I am less than impressed. Sour or bitter cider generally improves with age.

Hard Apple Cider Basics

Here is a very basic way to make hard apple cider. With just a bit more effort you can improve the quality of your finished product.

1. Get some cider. Best if you make your own. If you buy cider for this purpose, it should be unpasteurized. Some commercially-produced cider contains additives to keep it from fermenting. Jim and I once experimented with some organic cider from the food co-op, but even that would not ferment. I suggest starting with a small amount for your first batch, so that your heart is not broken if things don't end well.

2. Put your cider in the right container. Make sure everything is nice and clean. I have made hard cider in half-gallon growlers, gallon cider jugs, and five-gallon carboys. You can make hard cider in any container that will accommodate a fermentation lock.

3. Cap your cider with a fermentation lock. Shouldn't cost more than $5 even if you get a fancy one. Sometimes called an "airlock" or a "bubbler", should be available at a brewing supply store or online. The fermentation lock goes into a rubber stopper. Make sure you get a rubber stopper that fits properly into your container. Put water in your fermentation lock.

4. Watch. Fresh apple cider contains a small amount of naturally-occurring yeast. The yeast eat sugar and create two by-products: Alcohol and Carbon Dioxide. In a few days, the fermentation lock will start to bubble. The bubbles are carbon dioxide gas. You want to let the carbon dioxide escape without letting any other contaminants get in.

5. Drink. When the bubbles slow down the cider is finished. You may have a cider with 3 - 5% alcohol. If the cider is too dry or sour for your taste, try adding honey or sugar. If it's moldy or tastes foul, you should just throw it out. Sorry about that, it's an imperfect science.

6. Luckily, it is easy to make your hard cider Stronger, Faster, More Sanitary, More Predictable, and Suitable for Bottling.

Pressing Apple Cider

Made apple cider over the weekend.

It's not hard to do if you have a few friends to help. You do need some equipment, but this can often be borrowed or rented. Most people agree that you get the best cider when you mix different varieties of apples.

1. Find some apples. Surely you know someone with an apple tree who can't use all of the apples.

2. Sort the apples. Blemishes are okay, but use common sense and don't press anything that is rotting.

3. Wash the apples. Even just letting them sit in a tub of water for a minute or two will remove dust and bugs from the surface.

4. Crush the apples. I rent an apple crusher. This smashes things up - skins, seeds, and all - into a pulp.

5. Press the apples. I rent a wine press. Put the pulp into the press and press out the cider.

6. The fresh cider will keep for only a few days in a refrigerator until it starts to ferment. You can:
a. Drink it quickly and give it to friends.
b. Freeze it.
c. Boil it to kill off the naturally-occurring yeasts.
d. Make it into hard cider.

What's left after pressing can be composted or gifted to a local horse farmer or pig farmer. It looks tempting to use the pulp to make applesauce or a pie, but you will quickly realize that an apple with all of the juice pressed out of it tastes pretty much like cardboard.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Letters from Readers

Occasionally we take time respond to a few of the many letters we receive from readers. Today's letters are from Pennsylvania and from Brooklyn.

Dear Ray,

Mmm. That is the most delish blog on the web. I hope you find ways to work pork and pork products into yer vodkablog. Cuz vodka and pork are essentially the food of the gods.

-Ego in Park Slope

Dear Ego,

I remember when I was in college there was a house that was rumored to have a bottle of "pork schnapps". I never actually saw it, and assume it was a homemade concoction that gained mythical status only because no one dared drink it and it stayed there on the cinder-block-and-stolen-lumber shelves.

Just for you, Ego, I plan to go to the grocery store this afternoon to buy some Nueske's bacon to make some bacon-infused vodka. I promise to share the results.

A friend recently suggested pastrami vodka. Too bad I can't find any REALLY GOOD pastrami in Minnesota. I believe Katz's has a slogan that says "Send a pastrama to your boy for good karma". I'm just sayin'.

Dear Ray,

We've got spirits. Yes, we do. We've got spirits. How 'bout you?

-Eamus in Pittsburgh

Dear Eamus,

I'll cut to the chase here: We've got more.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Raspberry Infused Vodka

Mom's Recipe:

1. Fill a quart canning jar with raspberries
2. Pour a cup of sugar over the raspberries
3. Fill the jar with vodka (about half of a 750ml bottle)
4. Close jar with a tight-fitting, two-piece canning lid and ring
5. Let the jar sit upright for one week
6. Turn the jar upside down amd let sit for one week.
7. Turn jar weekly until vodka has infused for six weeks
8. Strain through a colander or similar strainer

NOTES: Mom says if you press the raspberries when you're draining them, the infused vodka will be cloudy. When left to infuse more than six weeks, the finished product tastes seedy.

My parents have been making raspberry vodka for years. They grow a lot of raspberries and are always looking for new ways to use them, especially at the end of the season when they are most bountiful. Honestly, my parents are not realy drinking people, but this recipe quickly became a family staple.

Early in the fall my parents' kitchen is dotted with quart jars infusing. Dad says once he came home for lunch and was halfway through a bowl of raspberries before he realized that they were infusing. Evidently it was a long afternoon.

Each year's new batch is generally first served at Thanksgiving. About ten years ago, Berger came to visit for Thanksgiving. He was really quite enamored with the stuff and my dad shared the family secret: "Very cheap vodka. VERY expensive raspberries".

This stuff is quite good to sip on its own, though some will certainly find it too sweet and syrupy. I suspect you could use half the sugar and shorten the infusing time and would still have a rich-tasting infusion. I sometimes thin it out with more vodka.

My dad makes a cocktail with orange juice - let's call it a Raspberry Sunrise.

I like to mix it with hard cider and call that a Pink Hoo-ha.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Pink Hoo-Ha

3 oz hard cider
1 oz raspberry-infused vodka

Serve on rocks.

Sticky Floor

1 oz Lemon Juice
1 oz Honey
2 oz Vodka

Mix equal amounts honey and lemon juice. Add some ginger if you like. Combine two ounces of this mixture with two ounces of vodka. Shake and serve up.

Brazilian Barbie

2 oz Rhubarb Tea
2 oz Vodka

Shaken and served up.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mulberry Wine

Per gallon:
4 pounds mulberries
4 cups of sugar
1 tsp yeast nutrient
1 tsp acid blend
1 tsp pectic enzyme
1 campden tablet
Wine Yeast

Holy cats this is a full-bodied wine. It's the Cabernet of the backyard weed-tree wines. When I first bottled it I really couldn't drink the stuff. And so it sat untouched in my basement. A few years later it finally started to come around. At five years when the last bottle was gone It was still improving and had become quite palatable.
I have a mulberry tree in my back yard that must be forty feet tall or higher. At the height of a productive year the mulberries fall on the ground so thick that you might slip on them. And they stain everything they touch. The only animals that eat them are the birds, and they proceed to leave blue streaks on every surface in the neighborhood.

I lay sheets out on the ground and at peak can collect a gallon of mulberries each day for a week.

Rhubarb Wine

You know, I'll have to try this again sometime. But I'm not in a hurry.

I used a recipe I found online somewhere. I believe it involved cans of frozen grape juice or some such thing. The resulting wine was quite sour. Frenchy was the only person willing to drink it and I think he drank every last bottle of the stuff.

Next time I'll add more sugar and make the primary fermenting period shorter. Maybe I'll mix it with some other fruit as well. Mulberry-rhubarb might be good.


4 lemons, sliced
1 cup sugar
2 quarts water

Slice lemons as thin as you can and put into a bowl.
Put sugar over lemons and stir with a wooden spoon.
Allow lemons and sugar to sit for a few minutes
Stir/mash with the wooden spoon until all sugar is dissolved.
Add water, stir.
Strain and serve cold.

Notes: Adding ginger is nice. Make pink lemonade with grenadine or some maraschino cherry juice. Straining out the lemon slices keeps the lemonade from becoming bitter.

In my memory it was my grandfather who made the lemonade for the family picnic on the last Sunday of June each year. I can imagine my grandfather in his bib overalls, sitting in the side yard slicing the lemons into a five-gallon Red Wing crock and covering them with sugar. He stirred the lemons around with some sort of paddle and soon the sugar dissolved as if by magic into a light yellow syrup. The water came right from the garden hose and was topped with ice chipped from a big block of ice delivered by the iceman.

But I can't possibly remember that. I never saw my grandfather make lemonade and I never saw ice delivered by an iceman. And my grandfather was probably expected to wear something less casual than overalls at the family picnic. And yet that's the way I remember it.

I surely remember the lemonade. It was scooped out of the crock with a tin ladle. It was cold and not too sweet and tasted of the minerals in the local water. It was the lemonade to which all other lemonade must be compared.

Rhubarb Tea

Mom's Recipe:
4 cups water
4 cups rhubarb
1 cup sugar
1 lemon, sliced
2 tea bags

Bring all ingredients to a boil and allow to sit ten minutes. Strain in a colander or other strainer. Serve cold.

Oh this is good stuff. Personally I think it's plenty sweet and I like to mix it half and half with water.

Or mix it half and half with vodka - I call that a Brazilian Barbie.

Minnesota Vodka

Minnesota does not strike you or me as a global center for vodka. As if part of a secret plan, though, the epicenter of the vodka economy has moved closer and closer to home over the past ten years.

My personal vodka of choice is Shakers. I like a dirty Shakers martini. I believe it was Berger who introduced me to the dirty martini in the mid-90s. Thanks, Berger. I first heard of Shakers about five years ago as the vodka that was made with local wheat at the ethanol plant in Benson. So I tried the stuff in an effort to buy locally. And like I said it's become my favorite.

Now I just recently tried Prairie Organic Vodka from Phillips. It's made from certified organic #2 yellow corn. Like Shakers, it's distilled in Benson, MN (at the same plant? good question). It's good stuff, but so far I only drank it in Bloody Marys one morning and have not really given it a thoughtful tasting.

Phillips is not generally known as a high-end brand. For infusions I have been using Phillips Vodka 80. It's less than $7 a bottle and works every time. But Phillips did introduce us to Chopin and Belvedere, (did you know these were imported by a Minneapolis company?) and with the Prairie Organic they have earned a lot of respect.

Lemon Infused Vodka

Test Batch:
375 ml vodka
zest of three lemons
1 tsp sugar

It was Halloween when I went over to Zipp's Liquors to buy vodka for this experiment. The nice lady who helped me was wearing a "Got Milk?" t-shirt and had a milk moustache painted on her upper lip. A bit outdated, and I didn't get it when I first saw her behind the counter because I just saw the white upper lip and not the t-shirt. I wondered if this was some waxing procedure gone awry.

Her associate was a young man wearing a sexy nurse outfit. He looked like a genetic mashup of Kurt Cobain and Courtney love. Also outdated, but Halloween gruesome to be sure.

I mentioned the experiment and the nice lady told me that she and her husband had also tried lemon-infused vodka. She told me they had used too much pith (too much of the white art of the rind under the zest. Luckily my friend Rory gave me a great zester for my birthday and so this was no problem.

Telsche warned me against letting the lemon zest infuse for more than a week.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


As I understand it, beer was invented in 1818 by Thomas Carling shortly after emigrating from Yorkshire, England to Ontario, Canada. Carling intended to start a farm and history tells us that he began brewing "beer" at home for "stumping bees".

As a younger man, I wondered if this meant that Mr. Carling drank a lot of beer and then went around ill-advisedly stomping on bees. Or perhaps that this early proto-beer was made using honey and involved stomping on honeycomb like stomping on grapes to make wine.

It was only after I went away to college and became a beer drinker myself that I realized that Carling actually used the beer - set out in bowls - to intoxicate (or "stump") the bees (probably wasps, actually) to keep them from stinging.

Eventually Carling painstakingly developed the formula for Carling's Black Label Lager. Though many countries now produce beer, it is widely accepted that Carling's Black Label still surpasses all other beers. And you will note that when you open a can of Black Label outdoors on a sunny day, the bees still come from miles around.

Honey Vodka

12 ounces honey
750 ml vodka

Jim came back from a trip to Poland with a jar of organic honey from the farm where his grandmother was born. This was some good honey. I thought he was wasting it when he poured several ounces into a quart jar and then filled the jar with vodka.

After shaking the jar for several minutes the vodka was a beautiful amber color. And the flavor was amazing. The vodka smartly highlighted the range of flavors in the honey.

This was the night of the final debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. I believe we drank every time we heard the word "middle class", but I'm sure we drank more often than that.

Urho's Greedy Grasshopper

Saint Urho is the mythical patron saint of Finland. As legend has it, when giant grasshoppers threatened to destroy all the grape vines in Finland, it took a giant Saint Urho swinging a giant pitchfork to chase them off.

My parents grew up in a Finish town in Central Minnesota, and each year on the 16th of March the town celebrates Saint Urho's Day.

When my father's father bought a farm from one of the original Finish settlers of the area, the farm came with a grape vine. My grandfather took a cutting of the vine with him when he retired and left the farm. My father took a cutting from this new vine.

The wine from these grapes is highly drinkable. I am guessing they might be Concord grapes, as the wine tends to taste a bit like Welch's.

Cinnamon Infused Vodka

Test Batch:
375ml vodka, charcoal-filtered
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp sugar

This is an easy one. Just drop a couple of cinnamon sticks in and let it sit.

After five days the flavor was quite nice. At the time of this posting this batch has infused 12 days and it's still getting better. I understand this one can sit for weeks and it will be just fine.

Mint Infused Vodka

Test Batch:
375ml vodka, charcoal-filtered
1 handful mint
1tsp sugar

After reading about mint-infused vodka at Infusions of Grandeur and at Leigh and Spencer, my expectations were low. But by the time I'd done that reading, I had already picked the mint from my parents' garden.
Based on their recommendations, I decided to filter after just two days.

The resulting flavor is certainly tooth-pasty, but I look forward to seeing how well it does when combined with other flavors.

Fennel Infused Vodka

Test Batch:
375 ml vodka
2 heads dry fennel seeds
1 tsp sugar

I've never had much luck growing fennel in my yard. The bulbs never amount to much, and the seeds drop all over the garden. The hundreds of seedlings that come up in the spring are only discernible from dill when you smell them. Pleasantly-aromaed weeding is still weeding.

So I have fennel plants. If I am still paying attention to them late in the season, I snip off the seed heads so that the hundreds of seedlings don't become thousands.

I'll admit that the fennel vodka came out an effort to find something to do with fennel seeds rather than out of some desire for fennel-flavored vodka. But my goodness this has been a pleasant surprise. The taste is reminiscent of ouzo, of course, and when I first tasted the stuff I immediately wondered if mixing the fennel vodka with other flavors like ginger and cinnamon would make something jaegermeister-like.