christmas vodka

I make Christmas vodka most years since discovering it back in 2010, not least because it’s wonderfully quick to reach the point maturity – a week is all you need, which can be a lifesaver at this time of year.

So, if you have a party coming up and want to serve a festive drink, this could be the perfect thing - it has all the flavour of Christmas, delivered in an easy to make and oh so very easy to drink, shot.

It’s a real crowd pleaser - several friends who’ve tasted it previously also make it regularly so, if you’re thinking about what foodie gifts to make for loved ones I really recommend this (and you should knock up a bottle for yourself too).

It’s also fairly flexible – the recipe below is the original but I tend to mix up the dried fruit – this year I just used raisins plus dried cherries and cranberries, whereas in previous years I’ve added dried apricots into the mix. I do think the candied peel is essential though, for the way the citrus flavour lifts everything.

I’ve made this because we have a party planned – once the spicy boozy fruit is strained out I will turn it into some sort of tart for us to eat, alongside brownies or a chocolate cake, with shots of the Christmas vodka.

Christmas vodka*

1 bottle (about 700ml) vodka

250g dark brown sugar

100g mixed peel

250g sultanas (or other dried fruit of your choosing – see above)

150g raisins

grated rind and juice of 1 orange

1 tsp almond essence

6 cloves

2 cinnamon sticks

2 vanilla beans, split, seeds scraped

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp mixed spice

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and cover with cling film (reserve the vodka bottle and cap). Set aside in a cool place (I put mine in the fridge) for 1 week, stirring once a day. Strain the contents through a very fine sieve, pressing down well to extract all the liquid. Pour liquid back into the vodka bottle and screw the cap on tightly. Store in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Note: the almond essence and citrus oils from the zest mean that you will get a small amount of scum in the bottle. You don’t need to worry about this other than in terms of the visual aesthetics of the drink – I decanted mine into shot glasses before serving.

* I found this recipe on the taste website, where it is called plum pudding vodka.