Make It Yourself Monday: Booze Treats

Today is another guest post from The Frugal Hostess [TFH]. After you read it, click the link at the end to go to her blog and subscribe to it.

A wretched week and a hacking cough recently set TFH off on a bender of booze-making. Here are some of the things she made.

1. Vanilla

Nothing could be easier. Buy the cheapest vodka you can find. Pour some out into a jar. Shove in a bunch of vanilla beans. [Vanilla beans are expensive, but this is the cheapest place to get them — only $20 per pound!]

Use a funnel to fill the bottle up with as much as you can of the vodka you poured out. Stick in basement or back of closet for a few months (four to six). Decant into little bottles, make cool labels, and give as gifts. This is really the best vanilla you will ever taste.

2. Vinegar

Save all of the dregs of your bottles of red wine. TFH understands that you usually drink all of your wine and doesn’t blame you. However, you might try pouring half a cup into a jar for a few weeks (days? You wino!). When you have a good amount, cover the top with a coffee filter, paper towel, or piece of cheesecloth and hide in basement or dark closet. After six months, you will have vinegar.

Please note that you won’t want to add more wine after you’ve started, as it will prolong the amount of time it takes to vinegar-ize. Just keep saving the wine in a different container, and start a new vinegar when you have enough. A jar or crock with a spout is good for making vinegar, since you can use the spout to pour off what you need.

Also, The Frugal Mother recommends filtering one’s vinegar through a coffee filter, but The Frugal Hostess is just rebellious enough to have ignored that advice. This is another thing that is cool to bottle and give as gifts.

3. Ginger beer

Beer is a stupid name for this, in The Frugal Hostess’s humble opinion. It is non-alcoholic and has no bubbles. In fact, it tastes sort of like poison until you mix it up, at which point is turns delicious. But TFH gets ahead of herself.

Peel a bunch of fresh ginger. This is supposedly an easy thing to grow, but TFH hasn’t tried yet, so she bought about two pounds of it. Once peeled, cut into uniform pieces (you know, just so they’ll fit in the Cuisinart; don’t kill yourself over it). Put in food processor with one cup of water and process like crazy.

Then, and this is the messy/annoying part, scoop the pulp into a mesh sieve positioned over a bowl. Using a plastic scraper or spoon, press down on the pulp to push out all the juice, which is – strangely enough – bright yellow!

It smells so good, too. You should do this two or three more times (process with cup of water, squeeze out juice). You’ll get a lot more juice than you expect, so have a large container for it. (TFH filled a handle-sized vodka bottle and a large jar.) Add one cup of fresh lime juice and three cups of sugar, then shake it up. You’re done!

However, it will be very strong, so here is TFH’s recommendation for consuming. Fill a tall glass with crushed ice. Pour in a quarter cup of ginger beer, and add two ounces of dark rum. Stir, then fill the rest of the glass with soda water. Garnish with a lime. Enjoy!

The Frugal Hostess is the figurehead of a lifestyle brand for poor people. She writes about inexpensive entertaining and other things that are cheap but not easy on her irreverent food blog at