As mentioned in an earlier post, my berry harvest was phenomenal this year and I’ve started experimenting with preserving methods. One tasty little liquor2_lexperiment, suggested by a coworker, Rebecca, was to make liqueur. I’m not a big drinker, nor do I know much about alcoholic beverages, including  liqueurs. But, I’m fortunate that her husband is a rum meister, recognized as one of the new “mixologists” for his work as a professional bar tender/tropical drink creator/tropical drink bar creator. (For more, see writeups in the SF Chronicle and NY Times, as well as this site for his new SF bar, Smugglers’ Cove, opening this fall.) So, when I received an email with Martin’s instructions for making liqueur, the scientist in me decided it was time to experiment.

Here are his instructions:

Alright, I consulted the family mixologist, and here were his suggestions for making your black raspberry liqueur.  Unfortunately, as with many things he does, he does it all by taste, so there isn’t an exact recipe per se, but:

In a large enough glass jar that will hold them combine:
2 cups of berries (Break up the berries just slightly – don’t want to mash them completely or puree them or anything…)
1 bottle of Wray and Nephew overproof rum
Let soak somewhere dark and cool about 2 weeks.
The day before you’re ready to try mixing a batch of liqueur, make up a small batch of simple syrup:
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil
Mix in 4 cups of sugar – stir to dissolve the sugar completely as quickly as possible (about 1 minute), and pull off the heat immediately.
Let cool completely and store in the refrigerator (will keep for several weeks).
On the day you’re ready, try making some sample batches first:
Pull aside a small sample (e.g. 1 cup) of the berry-infused rum you have had soaking as a sample batch.
Filter the berries out (use cheese cloth for best results, or a coffee filter or, in a pinch, a paper towel).
Now it’s time to experiment!  Take a taste of your sample of berry-infused rum (berries filtered out).  It will be very hot (i.e. strong alcohol) from the overproof rum at this point – you are just trying to see if you like the amount of berry flavor coming through.  Take a portion of your berry-infused rum sample, and add a small amount of simple syrup.  The simple syrup will cut the alcohol content down as well as, obviously, sweeten the liqueur.  Continue to add simple syrup to taste.  Play around with proportions of the berry-infused rum and simple syrup to see what you like, and make a note of proportions.
If after playing around a bit you’re not satisfied with the amonut of berry flavor of your liqueur, you may wish to let the remainder of the berry mixture soak a few more days and take another sample and play around again until you have the balance you like.
Once you find a balance that is right for you, proceed to filter and add simple syrup in your proportions to the remainder of the berry infused rum. Bottle it!
Refrigeration will help lengthen the shelf life of the bottled liqueur, but after 6 months it will start tasting kind of dead, so use it sooner rather than later.
Nice in a small cordial glass after dinner or poured over vanilla ice cream.

The liqueur is beautiful to behold, with a rich red color. It’s yummy, too, although we all (Rebecca, Martin and I) agree that the rum overpowers the berry flavor. Recommendation: Try vodka with the next batch. Looks like I’ll have to run more experiments! 😉