DIY Ginger Liqueur Recipe

This homemade ginger liqueur can compete with Domaine de Canton on flavor—for less than half the cost and only 20 minutes of work.

DIY ginger liqueur in a bottle.

Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

Why It Works

  • This homemade ginger liqueur can compete with Domaine de Canton on flavor—for less than half the cost and only 20 minutes of work.
  • Steeping time is very short, so this is a perfect DIY holiday gift.
  • Unleash your creativity by experimenting with different flavor combinations in small batches to make something you won't find on a liquor store shelf.

Ginger liqueur offers an exciting blend of sweet and spicy flavors. It can turn a basic drink into an intricately layered cocktail experience. Sure, you can use ginger liqueur all year (it's great with sparkling wine, especially when muddled with peaches in the summer) but this potion especially calls to us in winter, when it's just the thing to spice up our drinks.

What's Available to Buy?

Domaine de Canton is the most common ginger liqueur on the market. The ginger kick in Canton is balanced with vanilla, honey, and Cognac—it's elegant, but a bit sweet. Snap is a bolder ginger liqueur featuring nutmeg, cinnamon, and Rooibos tea in its mix of spices. It reminds me of a hearty gingerbread. Both cost about $30 a bottle—though I think Domaine de Canton is a more flexible cocktail ingredient. The King's Ginger is a slightly more expensive high-proof ginger liqueur with an intense bite—smooth but barely sweet.

Stirrings also offers a less complex ginger liqueur for half the price. Though it has a lovely flavor, I find that it doesn't add any more dimension to mixed drinks than a well-made ginger simple syrup would.

Why DIY?

As easy as it is to buy a bottle of Canton, my recipe for DIY ginger liqueur takes only 20 minutes of work and tastes just as delicious and refined. The steeping time is very short, so this is a perfect homemade holiday gift. (Hear that, procrastinators?)

It's also fun to play with different flavor combinations in small batches. Add some cinnamon, star anise, and cardamom for an earthier liqueur that's a good match for ciders and warm holiday drinks. A little lemon zest and lemongrass will give you a bright, Asian-inspired flavor. The beauty of homemade liqueur is unleashing your creativity to make something you won't see on the shelf at some liquor store.

Use It!

Your homemade liqueur is perfect for jazzing up all sorts of cocktails. The simple Tom Collins suddenly tastes exotic with a bit of ginger, but you can also get more complicated than that. Add a little to a hot toddy on a cold night. And yes, it's good in eggnog, or shaken up with rosemary and pears.

Ginger pairs well with so many flavors—think about food recipes that you like that include ginger, and then use those flavors in a cocktail. Carrots, oranges, lemons, apples, pumpkin, green tea—these things are natural partners for ginger and could be the basis for a great new drink. If you give your liqueur as a gift, you can include some handwritten recipe cards featuring your favorite ginger liqueur cocktails. That is, if you can bear to part with some of it.

December 2011

Recipe Facts

Active: 25 mins
Total: 72 hrs 25 mins
Serves: 16 servings
Makes: 2 cups

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Ingredients

  • 2 ounces ginger root

  • 1 vanilla bean

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1 orange

  • 1 1/2 cups brandy

Directions

  1. Peel ginger and cut it into thin slices. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise.

    Peeled ginger and vanilla beans on a cutting board

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  2. Bring ginger, vanilla, sugar, and water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until ginger is soft—about 20 minutes. Let the syrup cool. Do not strain yet.

    Ginger. sugar, and vanilla beans in boiling water.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  3. Zest orange and place zest only in a sealable glass container along with the syrup and brandy. Seal and shake, then let this mixture steep for one day.

    Orange zest, ginger/vanilla syrup, and brandy in a jar, steeping.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  4. After one day, remove vanilla bean and let mixture steep for an additional day.

    Vanilla beans removed from DIY ginger liqueur mixture.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

  5. Strain mixture through a coffee filter into your bottle or jar for storage. Let it sit for one more day before using to let flavors mellow.

    DIY ginger liqueur mixture strained into a bottle.

    Serious Eats / Liz Voltz

Notes

Peeling ginger with a spoon allows you to navigate the curves and bumps more easily than using a peeler.

Store as you would any liqueur—no refrigeration is required. This should keep for a year, but if it develops off flavors or a cloudy appearance, discard it.

Special Equipment

Zester

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Nutrition Facts (per serving)
87 Calories
0g Fat
13g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 16
Amount per serving
Calories 87
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 1mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 13g 5%
Dietary Fiber 0g 0%
Total Sugars 12g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 1mg 0%
Iron 0mg 0%
Potassium 3mg 0%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)