Butterscotch Liqueur

I was inspired to try making this when I unknowingly created an inside joke with a friend’s girlfriend about Harry Potter themed liquor. (Okay, it’s because the story came up where my fiance sent me a photo of Smirnoff Fluffed and Smirnoff Whipped, and in the bad lighting I thought he was sending me a photo of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff bottles.) We began talking about butterbeer (cream soda and butterscotch liqueur) and I knew I’d found a good Christmas gift! Within a few days of this conversation, I found a pin on Pinterest for homemade butterscotch liqueur, and I realized that making the liqueur would mean I wouldn’t feel obligated to buy a gift as well! I’m a big fan of homemade anyway, and my mother is a homemade limoncello master, so I like to think it’s keeping in family tradition. Or something.

The recipe I used can be found here. It seemed simple – few ingredients, relatively short preparation time (not counting the month of letting it sit in the refrigerator). So after putting the idea off for almost two weeks, I finally got all my ingredients together and started cooking.

Vodka, brandy, sugar, butterscotch flavoring, and vodka & cranberry for me, because why make alcohol and not drink it?

Also, a cat for moral support. Or to get under your feet in the kitchen. Whichever, really.

Do you like my bottle of butterscotch flavoring? I feel like a giant. It’s worth noting that neither Shop Rite or Wegman’s carries butterscotch flavoring, and I wound up going to the local candy store for it. You can order it online as well, which works out if you actually plan ahead, which I did not do. But I highly suggest it.

First, I brought the water and sugar to a boil (well, until the sugar had dissolved – it didn’t quite get to boiling). This took two tries, because I put the pot on the oven, turned on the burner, put in the sugar, and then the water. Turns out, the pot was hot enough that a lot of the sugar was stuck to the bottom, so I dumped it in the sink, washed the pot, and then put the water and sugar in BEFORE putting it back on the oven.

It only took about five minutes for the sugar to completely dissolve. Maybe less, because it took me a bit before I figured out the sugar at the bottom was not sugar, but was in fact bubbles. Ah well, live and learn.

Then I put the sugar water in a mason jar, thinking getting it out of the hot pot would help it cool to room temperature faster. When I started to loose patience waiting, I filled the pot with cool water and let the jar sit in there for a few minutes – magically, it was at room temperature within a few minutes of doing this.

The color of the water is, in fact, yellow-ish brown.

Next I added the vodka, brandy, and butterscotch – I know the recipe calls for 100 proof vodka and Smirnoff is only 80 proof, but I’ve spent so much money on gifts in the past week that I wasn’t about to buy more vodka for something minor like that. The brandy was whatever my fiance had laying around. Also, I was a bit heavy on the butterscotch flavoring…I probably wound up 3/4 tsp instead of the called for 1/2 tsp. But really, what else am I going to do with that little amount of butterscotch? (I do still have some left over.)

Looks like super delicious apple cider vinegar!

Next part is the waiting 30 days part, remembering to shake the jar daily. I set an alarm in my phone for the same time every day to remind me to do it. I let the jar sit on the cement floor of the basement, just so it stays sort-of cool.

Guarded by the ever-vigilant Jack Sparrow

FINALLY a month passed and I cracked that baby open. It smelled pretty strong, and not nearly as butterscotch-y as I expected it would. I mixed it with cream soda and it was delicious!

We also drank a lot of Starbucks peppermint mocha shots to bottle the butterbeer.

I think this is something I would definitely do again. I mean, what else am I going to do with that tiny bottle of butterscotch anyway?


DIY Extras – Baking Soda Hair Wash/ACV Rinse

The “no ‘poo” method has become a bit of a craze in the past year or so. And no, it has nothing to do with constipation – it’s short for “no shampoo” and encourages people to find alternative ways to wash their hair. There are many reasons to be shampoo-free; for example, you don’t have to buy bottles of shampoo regularly. This saves money AND packaging, if you’re interested in being green and all that. There are many other reasons, which are outlined here.

The one that really made me want to try it was the bit about hair health. I have pretty easy hair: it’s not really fine or thick, it’s mostly straight, and it has no special needs. It’s also pretty short at the moment, so I just get out of bed in the morning and head to work without doing anything. So when I decided to try out this method, I didn’t go into it expecting miracles, but I DID expect something to change.

The most popular version of shampoo-free is using baking soda instead of shampoo, and an apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinse in place of conditioner. For what it’s worth, I got the baking soda at Target, but this is one of those things you can really get ANYWHERE. I purchased the apple cider vinegar at Pathmark because I didn’t find it at Target – I don’t think you’ll be able to find ACV anywhere but a grocery store. Anyway, both are known for cleaning properties, so this made sense to me. In this post about shampoo-free (which I used as my main source of information; it really answered any questions I may have had), it says that the general rule is one tablespoon of baking soda to one cup of water; this can be kept in an old shampoo bottle. Now, since this means that the resulting mixture is a liquid, I couldn’t really imagine how I’d be able to use it. WELL, I have short hair, which means I just kind of made a paste in my hand with baking soda and water while I was in the shower and massaged that into my head. As for the ACV rinse, I used two tablespoons of ACV and one cup of water and put it in an old face wash container.

Now, I used this method over the course of…about four months, I would say. And I have to admit, I was kind of disappointed with the results. I didn’t see ANY changes to my hair. Maybe this is a good sign, as it means it wasn’t very icky to begin with, but I was expecting SOME sort of pay off for my troubles. (Not that there were many troubles, it was always just sort of annoying to bring the baking soda in the shower with me when there was shampoo already there.) Also, the ACV rinse smells, which I expected so it wasn’t really a turnoff, but it probably is worth mentioning.

So here it is months after I started on this venture; what have I done? I’ve gone back to regular shampoo. It’s conveniently already in the shower and my hair looks and feels exactly the same. I do still use the ACV rinse; partially because, you know, I made it so what else am I going to do with it, and partially because I do like how it makes my hair feel. Ultimately it is worth trying if you’re open to new things, but for me it just wasn’t worth it to keep doing it. Just make sure you don’t tell your friends you’re doing it: I know mine didn’t really listen to me and just thought that my not using shampoo was gross. Charming, open-minded people, my friends are.