Gifts from a Jar
Infusions make simple, delicious gifts for most anyone on your list. Surprise someone with a gift homemade with love, or make yourself a tasty treat.
These are the perfect garnish for a Manhattan or a Whiskey Sour. Boozy cherries are also delicious over ice cream. Fill a jar snuggly with good sour pie cherries (frozen work just fine). Top your jar up with simple syrup: equal parts hot water and granulated sugar. Soak the cherries for 24 hours, then pour off the syrup (save this to make cherry lemonade). Fill the jar back up with bourbon. As with the vanilla, any good basic bourbon will do. Store in a dark place. Wait at least two weeks, a month is better, and then use your delicious preserved cherries wherever you feel inspired. Once the cherries have disappeared, you'll have a beautiful cherry liqueur left behind. Don't let that go to waste: add a squeeze of lemon, a splash of soda, and a few ice cubes. There's nothing better.
Blueberry Basil Vinegar
Take a generous handful of berries and a few sprigs of basil and cover them with any vinegar you like in a wide mouth jar. Cider vinegar or white wine vinegar both work well here. Taste the vinegar every few days until it has taken on as much of the flavors as you'd like, then strain it into a jar that makes serving it handy. (Save the blueberry "pickles" you've now made and serve them with your next cheese plate.) Drizzle your delicious vinegar into salad dressings, use it to de-glaze the pan when cooking salmon, or add a little splash to finish a bean soup.
Bourbon Vanilla Extract
Making vanilla extract at home requires nothing more than a few vanilla beans, a jar to nestle them in, and a bit of bourbon. It's a little bit of an investment up front, but once you start your jar, the extract you use can be replaced with more bourbon. You can keep this up for years before you need to start over. To start your own vanilla extract, use as many whole vanilla beans as the jar is in ounces (six beans for a six ounce jar), and split them lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds, and add the split pods and seeds to your jar. Top with a good, basic bourbon, nothing too fancy, and store in a dark place. In a month, your extract is ready for baking.