Cheery music, festive tidings, the promise of snow-topped trees and indulgent meals: It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s the most stressful season of the year. A time to worry about what to serve at big family get-togethers, which nutty relative might make an unexpected appearance and who will bring what dish—plus, the impending headache of finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
This year, there’s one very adult way to knock out a few of these worries in one motion: An all-purpose drink that works as a hostess gift, an ingredient in a warming holiday Hot Toddy or as a heartfelt, homemade gift for the hard-to-please drink-lover.
This liqueur is a cinch to whip up, even on fairly short notice. The vodka-based elixir takes only four to five days to infuse and is so packed with seasonal spices, it balances the classic liqueur sweetness nicely.
So before you even let yourself worry about how you’ll cover all your holiday bases, throw together this all-purpose holiday elixir and keep a couple of small bottles on hand—in the event of a cocktail or gifting emergency.
Winter Spice Liqueur
1–750mL bottle Vodka
1 to 2 Cinnamon sticks
10 to 12 Cloves
3 Cardamom pods
3 Star anise
.75 teaspoon Allspice berries
.75 teaspoon Peppercorns
2 tablespoons Dried orange peel
1 Vanilla bean
1.25 cups Simple syrup (one part water, one part sugar)
Combine all ingredients except the simple syrup in a lidded glass jar. Cover, and let sit for four to five days, shaking the jar daily. After five days, strain all of the solids in the jar and discard. Add the simple syrup and shake to combine (feel free to add more or less simple syrup depending on how sweet you want it).
Store the liqueur in a sealable large bottle, or jar to serve at home or in multiple smaller bottles with festive labels to give as gifts.