Gifts From the Heart: Steeped Liqueurs & Extracts

By Brenna Kehew Sculley

by Celia Cooksey

The air has shifted… and the holidays are rapidly approaching. Want to be the gracious soul who has the perfect personalized gift for every person on your list, but haven’t started yet? You’re still ahead of the game, and there is plenty of time to make special things for the people you love. In a world of giving gift cards and leaning into simplicity, taking time to create and gift something unique is what makes the season special.

People appreciate homemade gifts for their personalization, and they value the time and effort invested in creating these gifts. When you always seem to be buying for people who have everything, a small piece of you in a bottle or wrapped in a tin is always welcome.

One way to get ahead of the holiday scramble is to make infused alcohol or extracts as your personalized gift. These are easy to assemble, take a few weeks to marinate, and can be bottled and labeled in any number of cute and fun ways. They give you the opportunity to be a tastemaker, curating your liqueur or extract to just the right potency that you like, sharing a flavor you love with your recipients.

For limoncello, there are tons of recipes across the internet. When you combine the lemon zest or peels and alcohol in a sealed glass jar, you must store it out of direct sunlight and give the contents a gentle shake every few days. Taste every couple of days until you have a bright, tangy lemon flavor that shines through and prevails over the taste of the alcohol. This can take up to three weeks, and it gives you the full experience of becoming a taste purveyor.

Take advantage of the fall grapefruit season and try your luck at a homemade liquor. Embrace whatever part of citrus season you’re in and make your version of something tasty.

Bourbon-soaked cherries are another popular treat to gift, and a delicious addition to any bar. Ideally, you’d have a bounty of cherries frozen from peak summer season ready to go, but store-bought frozen cherries work just as well.

Vanilla extract, perhaps the easiest to make of all these ideas, is all about sourcing the best vanilla. You can buy in bulk and spread the love among your friends and family. A unique and special vanilla beats any store-bought version, though there are some epically delicious vanilla bean pastes out there that are worth a try… You could just wrap those up to make your favorite baker’s day.

Perhaps the most fun part of making gifts like these are the packaging opportunities. Custom make your own label on Canva or Vistaprint, choose quirky bottles, thrift unique receptacles, and make it special. Name your product something funny or sentimental, and enjoy the process.

Homemade gifts symbolize care, thoughtfulness, and a unique bond between the giver and the recipient, making them especially cherished. Don’t let the holiday season slip by. Take a few moments now to start making your delicious presents, and be ready to reap the accolades.

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