Monday, December 5, 2011


Who got the hooch, baby?
Who got the only sweetest thing in the world?
Who got the love, who got the fresh-e-freshy?
Who got the only sweetest thing in the world?
Who got the hooch?

I got the hooch, baby! And it's homemade hooch! Ok, I don't think the lyrics above from the group O.A.R. are referring to what I'm referring to, and in interviews they won't explain the meaning of that song, but I'll happily tell you what I'm referring to....groovy, gluten free, homemade liqueurs! Oh it's the fresh-e-freshy, alright!

Bailey's Irish Cream and Kahlua are off limits to gluten-intolerant imbibers because Bailey's is made with Irish Whisky, which is made from gluten-laden rye, and Kahlua contains the infamously ambiguous "caramel color" and "natural flavors", which is often gluten in one form or another. I've consumed enough cocktails, in the name if science of course, and suffered the consequences so as to verify this. So, I found recipes for both and played around and am happy to share my stellar results for liqueurs.

Let's start with the Bailey's. I substituted Potato Vodka for the Irish Whiskey, so my version of Bailey's is called Vailey's and I think after trying this, you'll never go back to store bought Bailey's again! Not only do you know exactly what's in this liqueur, you can tweak the flavors to your own tastes and it's so much cheaper than the store bought and god-only-knows-exactly-what's-in-it version. Just be sure you buy 100% Potato Vodka, if you want your version to be gluten-free. Vodka may be distilled from any starch and sugar-rich plant matter. Most vodka is produced from grains such as sorghum, corn, rye or wheat....uh oh. Some vodkas are made from potatoes, molasses, soybeans, grapes, rice, sugar beets and sometimes even byproducts of oil refining or wood pulp processing. What??!! In some Central European countries, like Poland, some vodka is produced by just fermenting a solution of crystal sugar and yeast. I recently took a cocktail making class in which the bartender recommended Monopolwa Vodka, just in general, not just for gluten-intolerant people. He said it's a great quality vodka for the price and Monopolowa's website verifies that it's a 100% pure Potato Vodka. For those of you tuning in who are not gluten-intolerant and want traditional Irish Cream Liqueur, just substitute Irish Whiskey for the vodka in my recipe below.


1 and 1/4 cup of potato vodka
14 ounces of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon instant coffee granules
3 tablespoons of chocolate syrup

Blend ingredients in a blender on high for about 20-30 seconds. Store in the fridge and shake well before serving. That's easy!! It lasts about three weeks and, I'm not exaggerating here, my first batch lasted three days...not because it went bad...but because it went down so good!

A note about the sweetened condensed milk and the chocolate syrup. Trader Joe's (TJ's) carries organic sweetened condensed milk for just $2.49 but only during the holidays, so stock up! In addition to being organic, the TJ's brand comes in a plastic, BPA-free bottle, so no nasty BPA's leeching into your sweetened condensed milk, as is the case with canned sweetened condensed milk. If you don't know about the evils of BPA, read about them here. This is one of the reasons why I try to avoid anything from a can. BPA leeching into food is especially an issue with fat-based foods, like sweetened condensed milk, and acidic foods, like canned tomatoes.

Regarding the chocolate syrup. I also avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup, which many chocolate syrups contain. TJ's Midnight Moo Chocolate Syrup is organic and does not have high fructose corn syrup. However, I made a tiny batch of decadent chocolate syrup to use for my Vailey's, and I think it's what gave the recipe great richness and thickness. I melted a little more than a fourth of a Trader Joe's Organic 73% Super Dark Chocolate Bar with a little heavy cream and then added about 2 teaspoons of Lundberg Organic Brown Rice Syrup. I use this in every recipe that calls for nasty-ass Karo syrup and it works perfectly. This little concoction came out to about 3 tablespoons of chocolate sauce.


Note this recipe came from a friend and I made one batch and while it was good, I think it was too sweet, so I'm adjusting the sugar here. Therefore, I haven't tried this version but judging by the overt sweetness of the original, this should be just right and will use up the other half of your bottle of vodka.

Half a bottle of vodka
Half a vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
1/6 cup instant coffee granules
1 cup water
3/4 to 1 cup sugar

Heat the water and sugar, as you do when making a simple syrup, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the coffee granules and simmer for about 10 minutes. Once cooled to room temperature, add the vodka. Put the vanilla bean pieces in a sterilized bottle. I find that running the vodka bottle through the dishwasher all the way through to the heated drying cycle will suffice for this. Add the vodka mixture. Place the bottle in a cool dark place and shake several times a week for two weeks and, voila, you have your own homemade hooch!


(On an unrelated note, I can't figure out why the font is completely different on this post....driving the artist in me CRAZY!! Argh!!)

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