What's better than washing down your favorite Christmas candy with your favorite spirit? Sneaking those candies into said spirits, of course! Armed with a crazy array of seasonal candy and a liquor cabinet stocked with booze (plus mason jars with tight-fitting lids) we set about to figure out how to make holiday candy-flavored liquor.
Infusing alcohol with candy is less of an exact science and more of a to-taste kind of operation. We infused each batch for 24 hours, with a few healthy shakes throughout the day to get a good mix. This is not the time for serious pipette-required mixology. Leave 'em infusing longer if you prefer, tasting along the way (for fun and for science!). Grab a few mason jars, your favorite tipples, your local grocery's entire candy aisle, and have a holly jolly time.
Candy Cane Tequila
Who among us has ever gotten a package of candy canes that are all completely intact? Not me. If you spent your childhood trying in vain to keep them whole throughout the season, meet your revenge. Grab a handful of miniature candy canes and break them gleefully into a cup of blanco tequila until you've added 10 minis. If you've got to bring a drink to a holiday party in an hour and still haven't showered, use a coffee grinder to crush them into a fine powder. Stir, cap it and shake vigorously. The broken canes will infuse in about a day; the powdered will be ready to consume in just half an hour.
The finished product is bright pink, but make sure to strain out the candy goop at the bottom. The peppermint is strong, but not unpleasant, like when your dentist uses your favorite toothpaste and you feel fresh all day. This one would be delicious in hot cocoa, but if you like to walk on the wild side, try it as a shot with a chocolate chaser. Nothing gets the party started like (candy cane) tequila!
Chocolate Orange Rum
When I was a kid, my mom always got a foil-wrapped chocolate orange in the toe of her stocking. I thought it was a bum deal, since the rest of us got regular old fruit. Now that I'm an adult, I get why she got the good stuff. Sorry, mom. What's more satisfying than cracking the orange on the countertop? Throwing those slices into a jar of spiced rum and taking your Christmas "fruit" to the next level. We used six slices, mostly so we could eat a few as we waited for the drink to mature. Shake it every so often to help the flavors meld.
A cup of Sailor Jerry spiced rum gives the oranges a nice, spiced base to latch onto and after 24 hours of waiting, we weren't disappointed. The chocolate flavor comes through in a smooth, warm way that's not too sweet. The orange brightens things up a bit, too. This one is fine on the rocks, or with a splash of soda.
Gingerbread Peep Vodka
Peeps aren't just for springtime anymore. The company has come out with Christmas versions, including these adorable Gingerbread people peeps. Family visitors got you frustrated? Grab three gingerpeeps out of the package, pour 1 cup of vodka into the jar and tear those tiny bodies into satisfying shreds. Mash with a bar spoon and, if you're still feeling feisty, give it a good shake. Now, don't you feel better?
After 24 hours, the peeps turn into what can only be described as marshmallow mush. Strain this one carefully before drinking; it gets goopy. The finished product is a nice chocolate brown and tastes like, well, Peep-infused vodka. It's got a healthy bite, but a sweet, sugary undertone, too. Try mixing it with Bailey's, eggnog or even milk to soothe the burn. This one can stew for up to two weeks, for an intense, super-sweet flavor. Just remember to strain out the candy when it reaches your desired level of sweetness.
Gummy Christmas Tree Pisco
I have to say, I'm not a big gummy fan. Those of you who can eat an entire pound in one sitting, I just don't get you. But in the name of science, I infused pisco with red and green Christmas trees and it went better than I expected. Because gummies are basically sugar and gelatin, these don't need a lot of candy to work. Just chuck five green into one cup of pisco, five red into another, and stir vigorously.
The red yields a nice, baby pink colored pisco and the green is more Easter-grass than mistletoe. With no gummy aroma at all, the flavor was delicately sweetened; bright without being overpowering. If you want an intense sugar sweetness, you could leave this for a couple more days, but we liked it with just a tinge of candy flavor. It makes for a festive take on a pisco sour.
Ribbon Candy Bourbon
Remember those bowls of ribbon candy your grandmother kept on the coffee table? Mine grandma's candies were always covered with a fine layer of dust, but we recommend buying fresh for this recipe. We recommend choosing the cinnamon flavor—you only need two or three pieces to dissolve in a cup of bourbon. This one goes fast: the ribbon candy dissolves almost immediately, especially if you break up the candy first.
The spirit turns a bright, cheerful red, and the result tastes like a spiced bourbon, with an extra hint of that cinnamon bite that tickles all the way down. Its aroma was apparent even from a few feet away, but the taste is subtler than we expected. Try it with a twist of citrus (and a squeeze of orange, if you like.)