I don’t think there is a more universal symbol of Christmas than the Candy Cane. Dating back to the 1600’s, they were originally candy sticks fashioned into the shape of a crook, all white with no peppermint flavoring. In the early 1900’s candy canes took on the familiar peppermint flavoring and stripes, though definitive historical roots for the changes remain a bit unclear. Welcome 2012 when candy canes change form once more in the Boulder Locavore kitchen; they are made into booze.
Blame it on untethered curiosity, a devout passion for ‘repurposing’ and loving a novel cocktail, when stumbling upon these enchanting metallic pink and cream candy canes (organic nonetheless) I knew they were destined for something more; someone’s jolly holiday cocktail.
I befell temptation around Halloween when combining candy corn and vodka, risking friendship with a Master Distiller when confessing my concoction. Much to both our surprise, it turned out bearing the flavor of candy corn minus the sickening sweetness, validating my urge for liquid experimentation.
Candy canes and vodka are not such a daring pair but seem seasonally too well matched to pass up trying them together. As hoped, the result was a minty-fresh, light infused vodka without any weighty sugar tempting accidental boarding onto the Hangover Express when hoping for the Polar Express instead.
Once the vodka was rightfully infused, I set about employing it in a festive cocktail. Though potentially cliché, I could not shake the classic combo of peppermint and chocolate. But don’t fear, this drinks like a martini not a liquored-up milkshake. It’s fresh, with clean flavors, and no weighty presence like the beloved egg nog which coats your senses with a bit of a holiday film (I too have a festive recipe for Egg Nog but with the amount of spiking it bestows, it also is not heavy).
A few tidbits before grabbing your Mason jar. The candy canes will dissolve in probably less than an hour. I still let the infusion sit undisturbed for about 4 days to let the flavors fully settle in. Also these beautiful, all natural, organic candy canes lost the gorgeous pink luster when infused leaving a dingy, wash-water hue vodka. I elected to add a few drops of natural pink coloring from India Tree Dyes (all vegetable based dyes; available at Whole Foods Markets) to perk it up. Should you use an artificially colored candy cane you will most likely find its color to remain in the infused vodka.
This simple, festive candy cane infused vodka has a surprisingly light, fresh result perfectly paired in the Candy Cane Cocktail with Creme de Cacao for a classic peppermint and chocolate libation.
- 1 cup Vodka
- ½ cup Vanilla Vodka, purchased or this DIY recipe
- 6 6-inch Candy Canes
- 3 ounces Candy Cane Vodka
- 2 ounces Crème de Cacao, clear (no color)
- Dash Angostura Bitters
- 2 6-inch Candy Canes
- 1. Pour plain vodka and vanilla vodka in a jar with a lid. Add 6 candy canes, broken up so the liquid covers them. Allow to sit in a cool, dark location for 3-4 days, shaking periodically to mix any sediment into liquid.
- 2. When ready to use, strain through 2 layers of cheesecloth to trap any sediment. Seal in a jar, store in a cool, dark location until using.
- To make Candy Cane rimming sugar: place 2 candy canes in a chopper or blender and process into a granulated sugar. Rim cocktail glasses.
- Add Candy Cane vodka, Crème de Cacao, Bitters and ice to a shaker; shake and strain into a rimmed cocktail glass