The winter landscape offers little warming gifts if you know where to look. Balsamic Brandy is a lovely spirit lifter on a cold day whose lip smacking goodness comes from our conifer friends. Most people do not think of spruce, pine or fir needles as a spice for infused cordials but these wonderful trees are untapped treasures of the cocktail world.

Douglas-fir is a Treat for Wildlife

Douglas-fir is a Treat for Wildlife

This recipe calls for Douglas-fir needles or tips but other conifer needles would work just fine too. Pine needles will have a more citric  taste. Spruce is a little warmer with its after taste. If you are using larch needles, toss in a few more than the recipe calls for to bring out a stronger flavor. This is a very quick infused brandy to make but it can sit longer than a week in needed. The coniferous resins will dominate the flavor if left soaking for more than 2 weeks so don’t let it get away from you.

I added tangerine peels because that is the citrus fruit that we have in abundance during the holiday. There is no reason that chopped orange peel wouldn’t work. To use tangerine peel from your own tangerines, simply wash the peel first. Cut it up with kitchen sheers and put it on a cookie sheet or piece of foil in your toaster oven on low to dry.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Douglas-fir needles/tips
  • 16 oz brandy
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup dried/chopped tangerine peel
  • 4-5 clove buds

Procedure

  1. Add all the ingredients to a large jar (2 quart or bigger). Screw on lid tightly.
  2. Label jar with name of recipe and date batch is started.
  3. Shake jar vigorously and place in a temperature controlled area away from light.
  4. The next day turn the jar upside down so the jar is sitting on its lid. (See why you should screw the lid down tightly?)
  5. The following day, invert jar again.
  6. Repeat this procedure every day for 1 week, turning the jar so the ingredients slowly filter from the top of the jar to the bottom of the jar.
  7. At the end of 1 week, strain the ingredients through a cheesecloth.
  8. Let the remaining liquid sit in a covered container overnight.
  9. Strain the remaining liquid a 2nd time.
  10. Bottle your Balsamic Spice Brandy Cordial and enjoy!