Rich and fruity, this delicious liqueur is packed with festive spices and zest to bring a spirit of good cheer to your Christmas gathering! When I was first creating this recipe I soon realised that a significant amount of vodka is lost when soaked up by the dried fruit. Although this can be subsequently used for desserts and cooking, it seems infinitely preferable to preserve as much of the alcohol for drinking, so here the fruit is soaked in hot black tea, firstly to give the liqueur a little body, but also to replace the lost spirit.
The mixture is initially steeped for four days before being sieved so is perfect for last minute Christmas gifts; however it does taste better the longer you leave it, so I would suggest making it at least a few weeks before you need it and then popping the bottle in a dark cupboard to mature. Serve either chilled or from the freezer as an after-dinner treat, or add a tot to your coffee or hot chocolate after a brisk winter walk!
The leftover fruit makes a wonderfully boozy addition to a spoonful of vanilla ice cream (and can be frozen until you fancy it); serve with our two minute chocolate fudge sauce for a quick but decadent dessert (do take out the cloves though as they can be an unwelcome surprise, as my boyfriend found out!).
Ingredients (makes roughly 1 litre)
1 litre of supermarket vodka (nothing special!)
250g dried mixed fruit (preferably with mixed peel)
150-200g soft dark brown sugar
250ml hot black tea
Zest of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
3 cloves (any more and the liqueur may end up tasting like cough syrup!)
2 tsp mixed spice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
- Tip the dried fruit into a large bowl or 1.5l Kilner jar. Pour over a 250ml cup of strong black tea and set aside for a couple of hours so that the fruit plumps up.
- Add the vodka, 150g sugar, zest, spices, cloves and vanilla and almond extract, give everything a good stir/shake.
- Put the mixture on the side for four days, giving everything a little jiggle every time you walk past to help the sugar dissolve.
- On the third day give the vodka a taste and add the rest of the sugar if you prefer it a little sweeter.
- After four days strain the mixture using a fine mesh sieve to remove the fruit and cloves, pushing everything down with a spoon to remove as much of the liquid as possible.
- Strain the mixture again to remove any sediment; paper coffee filters work well, although you may need to change them a couple of times. A double layer of scalded muslin/strong kitchen towel can also be used to line the sieve if you don’t have paper filters, and jelly-straining bags work very well too.
- Decant into sterilised glass bottles and keep somewhere dark to mature until Christmas; perfect for when you fancy a little sweet treat but can’t fit in any more pudding!