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Old 29-12-2003, 08:38 AM
PC Consumer
 
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Default Homemade Amaretto?

Hello,
I want to make an almond liqueur, mainly for savings. After considering
the proper ingredients, does the cost make it more reasonable to get
DiSaronno (about $22)?

Top Secret Recipes' web site says that this is a mock recipe for DiSaronno:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup very hot water
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cups 80-proof vodka
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Can I substitute granulated and brown sugar with pure maple syrup? If
so, how much maple syrup?

What is the best bargain vodka? Some people argue that cheap vodka can
be just as good as some of the more expensive mid-priced ones. What is
an economical vodka suitable for making this liqueur?

Is it ok to add more vodka to increase the proof?

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Old 29-12-2003, 04:15 PM
Gunther Anderson
 
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Default Homemade Amaretto?

Hello,
I want to make an almond liqueur, mainly for savings. After considering
the proper ingredients, does the cost make it more reasonable to get
DiSaronno (about $22)?


Well, it all depends on what things cost in your neck of the woods.
Grocery pricing isn't consistent at all. And it also depends on how
much variation from the taste of true Amaretto you're willing to
tolerate. I've seen Amaretto recipes that are as simple as vodka,
almond extract and sugar syrup.

Top Secret Recipes' web site says that this is a mock recipe for DiSaronno:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup very hot water
1/2 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cups 80-proof vodka
1 tablespoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Plausible. A little more involved than I'd have made, and probably a
lot sweeter. I find I like my liqueurs with half as much sugar as vodka
(by volume). This one has nearly as much sugar as vodka.

Can I substitute granulated and brown sugar with pure maple syrup? If
so, how much maple syrup?


I think we can assume that granulated and brown sugar are roughly
equivalent (you can substitute them 1:1). A book my girlfriend just dug
out for me says that you can substitute 3/4 cup real maple syrup for 1
cup granulated sugar. That should get you roughly equivalent sweetness.

And a note about substituting one sweetener for another - if you don't
compensate for the change in liquid volume, then you're altering the
proof of your liqueur. So if you use maple syrup instead of sugar, you
might want to add a little water to the maple syrup to bring the volume
to what you would have gotten if you'd dissolved the sugars in the
water. Something like an extra 1/3 cup would probably do the trick.

However, you're significantly changing the flavor. Amaretto has no
maple flavor to it, so if you're removing the molasses overtones that
brown sugar would provide and adding maple overtones instead, you're
making a different flavor.

What is the best bargain vodka? Some people argue that cheap vodka can
be just as good as some of the more expensive mid-priced ones. What is
an economical vodka suitable for making this liqueur?


Don't go with bargain vodkas for homemade liqueurs. I've tried a number
of cheap vodkas, and always the vodka flavor came through and impacted
the taste of the liqueur. The cheapest vodka I've found that I like in
liqueurs is Smirnoff. But probably anything in the $14-$20 range (per
1.75L) would be fine. But cheap vodka has bitterness and off flavors
that cut right through the best liqueurs.

Is it ok to add more vodka to increase the proof?


You'd be better off reducing the water/sugar to increase the proof. I
find that most liqueur recipes are happiest if you don't change the
ratio of flavors to vodka. But additional water (in the form of sugar
syrup or maple syrup as you suggest above) can be fiddled with happily.
If you add more vodka, add more of your flavor extracts. But that's
equivalent to making more liqueur and reducing the sugar syrup.

Oh, let me assume here that the recipe that wasn't included told you to
mix your sugars with the hot water and dissolve them before adding to
the vodka. The three basic parts of a liqueur are the alcohol, the
sugar-syrup, and the flavors. Your final proof is the amount of vodka
divided by the total volume of liquids (including vodka). So reducing
the sugar-syrup volume increases your proof. Increasing the vodka would
too, but would also dilute your flavors slightly. Generally there's
nothing you can do about the water contributed by your flavorings (if
you were making a fruit liqueur, for instance).

And remember that stronger booze is not always better booze. Increasing
the burn sensation of a liqueur by jacking up the proof will definitely
change how the liqueur is perceived in the mouth, and may drown out
other, subtle flavors.

So I'd say that you can definitely make liqueurs at home for less than
high-end commercial liqueurs might cost, but you won't get the flavors
right. I recommend making homemade liqueurs for the fun of it, but
low-end commercial liqueurs will still be cheaper, and probably taste no
worse than what you're making. From a strictly economic standpoint,
absent oppressive alcohol taxation, you're better off buying cheap
stuff. But outside of strict economics, it _is_ a lot of fun...

http://www.guntheranderson.com/liqueurs.htm

Oh, and in general, my advice is to experiment. Make one just like the
original recipe, and make one with maple syrup, and make one with more
vodka, or reduced sugar, and so forth. They'll all be drinkable, but
you get to decide which one you like best. And you can always add other
ingredients if you think they're called for.

Gunther Anderson

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Old 30-12-2003, 09:52 AM
PC Consumer
 
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Default Homemade Amaretto?

Gunther Anderson wrote:

[snip]

Oh, and in general, my advice is to experiment. Make one just like the
original recipe, and make one with maple syrup, and make one with more
vodka, or reduced sugar, and so forth. They'll all be drinkable, but
you get to decide which one you like best. And you can always add other
ingredients if you think they're called for.

Gunther Anderson



Thanks for the comments, Gunther. Nice site...
I plan to experiment with some liqueurs, but probably without any desire
to mock specific products like di Saronno.

I'm concerned about the possibliliy for me (a beginner with a low
budget) to imitate the flavor/quality of di Saronno without much
experimentation, but good advice. Is it possible, or should I buy the
real thing?

Is it possible for even an experienced liqueur maker to come close to di
Saronno? I've heard that it is a top quality amaretto without much
competition.

I assume that anything over 2/3 of the 'real' price would probably not
be worth the effort and gas. I might break even, or worse, spend more
than the cost of the real product. I have also considered a fresh bottle
and cork, which I would need to order by mail, or make a little trip...
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Old 30-12-2003, 09:31 PM
Gunther Anderson
 
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Default Homemade Amaretto?

PC Consumer wrote:

Thanks for the comments, Gunther. Nice site...
I plan to experiment with some liqueurs, but probably without any desire
to mock specific products like di Saronno.

I'm concerned about the possibliliy for me (a beginner with a low
budget) to imitate the flavor/quality of di Saronno without much
experimentation, but good advice. Is it possible, or should I buy the
real thing?


If you need the real thing, buy the real thing. Di Saronno is made
with the seeds of apricots - you break open the pits to get the seeds
themselves. They probably use a particular variety or brand of alcohol,
and may add any number of small-quantity spices for color. You're very
unlikely to be able to duplicate it perfectly.

I always tell people that making liqueurs is about handcrafting them,
and in making your own varieties. It's never worthwhile if you want to
try to clone a commercial liqueur more cheaply.

Basically, it comes down to your particular taste. If you're looking
for a fun almond-like liqueur, you can easily make it yourself. The
bragging rights are worth a lot. Especially for cocktail mixing, really
epensive liqueurs are never worth the expense, since their subtle
flavors will get overwhelmed by whatever else you toss in.

Obviously, someone thought the recipe you have came close enough for
their taste. But they probably could tell the difference, too.

Is it possible for even an experienced liqueur maker to come close to di
Saronno? I've heard that it is a top quality amaretto without much
competition.


That might just be a testament to the small market for Amaretto
products, or that di Saronno has an enormous brand value. It's probably
not because it'd be impossible to come close to duplicating. Whether
anyone can duplicate it or not depends entirely on the sensitivity of
the maker's tongue. You have to figure out what the flavors present
are, and then decide how to duplicate them. "Close to," sure. Even an
inexperienced liqueur maker can come close to it. But not duplicate it.

I assume that anything over 2/3 of the 'real' price would probably not
be worth the effort and gas. I might break even, or worse, spend more
than the cost of the real product. I have also considered a fresh bottle
and cork, which I would need to order by mail, or make a little trip...


Decide what you really want. If you want di Saronno, buy di Saronno.
If you want an almond-tasting liqueur for your own purposes that would
be much cheaper than real di Saronno, you should be able to pull it off.
If you want a homemade taste-alike of di Saronno, expect it to take
time and effort, and not to be substantially cheaper than just buying it
- especially if your time has any value.

Oh, for bottles, just make the trip. I buy mine from a local
wine-making supply store for something like $2/750ml bottle, and corks
are $.30 each. Well worth not having to worry about bottle quality and
residual flavors in used bottles.

Another Amaretto recipe:

From Charles Thomas' Sweet Sips 2:

Amaretto

1/2 lb fresh almonds
2 cups brandy
1 Tbsp grated orange peel
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 dried apricot, chopped
1 cup vodka
1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water
1 tsp Finishing Formula**

** Finishing Formula is a glycerin mixture that the author sells
himself. Since I never use glycerin, I couldn't guess what else might
be in it, but possibly an antioxidant fruit protector powder. You only
need this if a thicker mouth feel is crucial for your enjoyment of a
liqueur.

Chop almonds, put in jar with apricot, brandy, vodkja, vanilla and
orange peel. Steep 6-8 weeks. Strain and filter. Boil sugar and water
together until sugar is dissolved, and let cool. Add to mixture.
Bottle and/or serve.


Classic Liqueurs by Cheryl Long and Heather Kibbey, and Cordials From
Your Kitchen by Patte Vargas and Rich Gulling both have Amaretto recipes
as well. Long & Kibbey might be hard to find, but Vargas & Gulling is a
great book to have.

Enjoy,
Gunther Anderson



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