Five months ago, my friends Melissa and Azu joined me for a trip to a berry farm in New Hampshire under the shadow of Mt Monadnock in New Hampshire. I wrote about it in this post. We picked blueberries, raspberries, and red and black currants. I made jam from the berries and and red currants and turned the black currants into liqueur - known as 'cassis' - by combining them with lemon, vodka and sugar and mashing it all together and leaving it in my basement.
Until today. Today I finally bottled the results after months of patient waiting. The cassis is a rich ruby elixir bursting with summer flavor. It is bright, acidic, just slightly boozy and very fruit forward. It has a great mouth-coating quality but isn't cloyingly sweet.
I like to give liqueurs that I make as gifts during the holiday season. I had nothing at home that would adequately show off the cassis to its advantage, so I headed out to my local home brew shop, the Grateful Dead-influenced "Strange Brew" a few towns over to pick up some bottles, labels, corks and sleeves. I picked out a bottle that looked like the cassis bottle Bonnie Doon uses. And did my best to make the guys at the shop make eye contact with me. Which they mostly avoided. Weird guys.
Back home I continued to strain out the juice from the currant lees. I used a couple strainers and a jelly strainer to filter the liqueur. It took a longer than I had hoped and was very messy. Later, as my mother made dinner that night, I could hear her say, "sticky sticky!" as she jumped from one foot to the next. I guess I left a little on the floor.
I quickly designed a silly, information-spare label using a photo of currants as the background. I burned out the image a little too much. If you look really hard, you just might be able to tell that there are currants in the background.
In the end, I had enough liqueur for 12 375 ml bottles - more than enough for holiday gifts.
Doing the math, it doesn't necessarily make sense to make your own, especially if you cannot pick your own black currants (which is what I did to save money). Including berries, vodka, other ingredients, bottles, labels, and corks, it cost me about $12 per 375 ml bottle to make. It doesn't cost much more (maybe $2 more?) and is a lot more convenient to buy a decent bottle of French cassis.
Sadly, for pretty obvious legal reasons, Linsey's Monadnock View 2009 Cassis isn't for sale anywhere. But if you have something you'd like to trade, drop me a line!