Recent Duty-Free Visit Yields 190-Proof Grain Alcohol...Now What?!
I just came back from my first trip to New York City. Great times. Great city.
At the duty-free I snagged a 1.75L bottle of grain alcohol, presumably for making my own bitters/digestifs/aperatifs...but now I'm spoiled for choice and can't decide what to make!
I don't know when I'll get my hands on this stuff again so I want to make the best recipe I can with what I've got.
Any recommendations, folks?
Limoncello....many recipes available soak lemon rind in alcohol till all color is removed from fruit. Sweeten and dilute. Serve icy cold from freezer.
Limoncello is a great idea, I just made some a few weeks ago, if you can find Meyer lemons use those for a slightly different taste.
Within a couple of days the alcohol will leech out all the flavorful oil and color from the fruit. When I made a batch recently with 190 proof the peels ended up dissolving, making it cloudy, after a few weeks. So I'd make sure to take them out once they turn white.
Put as little pith as possible. Just use a zester or finely grate the peel so you're getting mostly the flavorful part.
You could make 3 different flavored drinks instead of just limoncello, like tangerine, orange or grapefruit. I wonder how lime would come out!!!
As a winemaker/brewer/distiller I can't really think of much you would use 95%abv/190 proof for. Even for gin, pastis, absinthe, etc. you lower the proof to 1/3 that for infusion before distillation.
The exception would be limoncello and other citrus zest/oil based liqueurs, and it's pretty strong for that. A weeks infusion instead of 4-6 weeks is probably more than enough. Remove the zest as soon as it gets white and hard, filter, then sweeten and lower to 60-50%abv.
You would have to keep a close eye on the extraction time if you use it for bitters. A week or less then reduce the strength. Most original bitters recipes call for 42-50% alcohol for the infusion, for one week to ten days, filtering, then reduced to 30%abv.
Many digestifs are white wine based, although you could make a bitter infusion and add to the wine to fortify it. Sort of a vermouth, although I wouldn't do it that way.
The digestifs that are spirits based are usually distilled, like absinthe, pastis, etc. I assume you won't be doing that.
For fruit liqueurs where you might use the 190 proof NGS think a much shorter infusion time and check on a regular basis. It really depends upon the fruit, some work well with the higher extraction rate, others don't. It's all amatter of timing, quality control, and personal taste.