Belle Isle Moonshine

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Infusions

3 Super-Easy Holiday Infusions

Infusions, CocktailsBrandon DayComment
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With just a couple days left before the holidays, your friends at Belle Isle Moonshine are here to help get you through this time filled with stressful shopping, visits with the family, fruitcake overload and It’s A Wonderful Life on endless replay. With our to-do lists all sorted out and presents wrapped, we figured it was time to have some fun with a few of our favorite DIY infusions that are sure to please everyone at your holiday gatherings.

Belle Isle's own Director of Production and R&D, Gregg Brooks, is here to show you how it's done. These infusions will not only taste delicious, they’ll look beautiful sitting on your kitchen counter or bar. These are all super easy, one-bottle infusions that anyone will be able to pull off from the cozy confines of your home, much to the delight of your guests. It doesn’t get much easier, and it doesn’t get much better.

Lemon Infusion

Ingredients:

  • 3 lemons (The harder, the better for peeling)
  • 4 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 (750ml) bottle Belle Isle 100 Proof
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Preparation:

  1. Measure and pour out 6 ounces of Belle Isle 100 Proof. Use that spirit to make three cocktails, one for yourself and two for your friends. Flying solo, make one drink and save the rest for later.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemon in long strips. Try to get just the outer skin and avoid as much of the white pith as possible. Save the peeled lemons for other later uses. Using a small sharp knife, remove as much pith from the peels as you can.
  3. Carefully place by the peels into the bottle by pushing them through the neck with a bar spoon or straw. Place top back on the bottle and store in a dark place at room temperature for a minimum of 5 days, though the longer the better.
  4. When ready, take the bottle out and remove the top. Slowly and carefully pour 4 ounces of simple syrup into the bottle, place the top back on and gently shake the bottle to mix ingredients. Place the bottle in the refrigerator overnight.
  5. It’s ready to drink at this point, either straight or in a cocktail. Keep in the refrigerator for up to 30 days, though we hope this won’t last more than one night at a holiday party.
  6. *Want a sweeter finished product? Mix all ingredients in a larger container other than the bottle and follow the same steps, but double the simple syrup. You can always pour the finished product back into our bottle. The infusion should have a beautiful bright yellow-green tint to it.

Orange-Cranberry Infusion

Ingredients:

2 oranges (the firmer, the better)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1½ cups sugar
1 (750ml) bottle Belle Isle 100 Proof

Preparation:

  1. As with the lemon infusion, measure and pour out 6 ounces of Belle Isle 100 Proof, and use in a cocktail or set aside.
  2. Place cranberries, sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a medium-sized saucepan and cook over medium heat. Stirring frequently, let the mixture simmer for about 4-5 minutes or until the berries begin to burst. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  3. Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the oranges in long strips. Try to get just the outer skin and avoid as much of the white pith as possible. Save the peeled oranges for other later uses. Using a small sharp knife, remove as much pith from the peels as you can.
  4. Carefully place by the peels into the bottle by pushing them through the neck with a bar spoon or straw. Once cranberry mixture has cooled, carefully and slowly pour that mixture into the bottle using a funnel. You may have to push some of the cranberries through using that bar spoon or straw. The neck of the bottle will look crystallized, and I think it adds to the appearance of the finished product.
  5. Gently shake the bottle to mix the ingredients and place in a dark place at room temperature for at least 5 days. Once ready, refrigerate overnight. There will be some sediment in the bottle, so feel free to strain the spirit before using. You can drink this infusion straight or in a cocktail.

Caramelized Apple Infusion

Ingredients:

  • 1 large apple (we like Gala apples for this infusion)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 (750ml) bottle Belle Isle 100 Proof (Belle Isle Black Label will also work in this infusion)
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Want to get fancy? Add any of the following with the apples for a new flavor.

  • Cinnamon Sticks
  • Cloves
  • Anise
  • Allspice

Preparation:

  1. Measure and pour out 4 ounces of Belle Isle 100 Proof. Use that spirit to make two cocktails, one for now and one for later.
  2. Cut the apple into thin slices, making sure they’ll easily fit through the neck of the bottle.
  3. Place the apple slices into a medium saucepan with the sugar and two tablespoons of water and cook over medium heat. Stirring frequently, let the mixture simmer for 4-5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 30 minutes. Enjoy the “later” cocktail at this point.
  5. Once the mixture has cooled, carefully and slowly pour the mixture into the bottle, pushing the apples through the neck with that bar spoon or straw.
  6. Place cap back on and very gently shake the bottle to mix ingredients. Place the bottle in a dark place at room temperature and let sit for 3-4 days.
  7. When ready, refrigerate overnight. There will be sediment in the bottle, so feel free to strain while pouring into a glass or jigger. This infusion is great straight or in a cocktail.

Happy Hour With: Hummingbird Gardens

Cocktails, Infusions, Happy Hour WithBrandon DayComment
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One sunny summer afternoon, Amanda Montgomery, owner of Hummingbird Gardens, invited us over to see her amazing garden and, of course, mix up some delicious, refreshing cocktails using fresh herbs. Even if you don’t have a green thumb, Amanda will teach you everything you need to know about using fresh herbs in infusions and cocktails.

Tell us a little about your company.

Hummingbird Gardens is an herb, edible flower, and cut flower-focused market garden (or yard farm) that is in my front and backyard in Southside Richmond. I source mainly to local restaurants and have a small garden share program that provides folks with herbs, a bouquet, and an item from another partner business. In addition, I make herb salts that I sell on my website, some retail sites, and at events like Brunch Market.

We broke ground in October of 2015 and I had my first season in 2016. It feels like yesterday and a million years ago all at the same time!

How long have you been gardening?

I’ve done it in spurts my whole life. I had some marigolds as a kid and spent a lot of time hauling plants around for my grandmas when I would visit them in Savannah and New Jersey. I started gardening in earnest my senior year of college and continued after I graduated. I volunteered with Tricycle Gardens not from from the Belle Isle Moonshine distillery and helped break ground on their farm in Manchester. After that, I went to graduate school in Pittsburgh where I worked at a small farm called Churchview Farm and at my school’s farm, Eden Hall.

What do you love most about gardening?

There's so much to love! I love bringing more life into the world. I love creating a space that other people and creatures can be happy in and can thrive. I love watching things grow and (hopefully) helping them along. Most importantly, I love sharing what I grow with others.

What are you growing currently?

Loaded question! I grow a variety of herbs including 3 kinds of thyme, 7 kinds of basil, 4 kinds of sage, and a bunch of edible flowers including bachelor’s buttons (which I'll be using in a cocktail today), cosmos, anise hyssop, and gem marigolds. 

Who do you work with in the area? How are folks using your products?

I have a Garden Share program that several local restaurants participate in - it’s basically a CSA and they get 5 items from me a week for 20 weeks. My clients all use my products differently, but I’ve seen edible flowers in anything from cocktails to desserts, and recently I saw that Hutch used my pineapple sage in one of their fish dishes. Sometimes we come up with things together!

What are some tips for using fresh herbs in infusions and cocktails?

You can use fresh herbs as a garnish, muddle them when mixing a drink, or make a simple syrup infusion.

Fresh herbs are a lot of fun to experiment with in cocktails and infusions. Unlike dried ingredients such as tea leaves that infuse very quickly, fresh herbs give you a bit more room to play around. You can adjust how powerful you want the flavor of the herbs to be by changing quantity used and time left infusing.

My infusion recipes are typically 1 part herb to 4-6 parts spirit. When you use a spirit with a higher alcohol content like Belle Isle 100 Proof, it pulls flavors from the herbs quicker than a lower proof spirit will. I'll put my infusion in a sealed container for a full day, taste it, and continue to infuse it for another 2-4 days, just tasting it along the way. Once it gets to where I want, I pull the herbs out, fine strain out anything left, and put it back in a bottle.

My favorite herbs to use in cocktails are basil, lemon verbena, or rosemary.

I think of herbs as the knot that ties other ingredients together by complementing their flavors or adding a new element to a cocktail to round it out. So if your other ingredients are all bitter, you might use something citrusy or tea-like. If your cocktail is hearty and heavy, you might use a bright, spicy herb to finish it off. A lot of times I'll use dishes from cuisines around the world to think of flavor pairing ideas and inspiration.
 
What fresh herb-infused cocktails did you make today?

Preparation:

Muddle blueberries and thyme in the bottom of a highball glass. Add ice to the glass, pour in Belle Isle Premium Moonshine, top with seltzer, and stir.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
  • 6-10 fresh blueberries
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 oz. seltzer water

Preparation:

Add a coffee ice cube to a glass, then top with lavender-infused Belle Isle & tonic and stir.

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. lavender-infused Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee Moonshine*
  • 3 oz. tonic water

*Add 1-2 lavender flower heads to 12 oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee Moonshine, let steep for 4 hours, tasting occasionally.

Drinksgiving: A Survival Guide

Cocktails, InfusionsBrandon DayComment

Whether your Thanksgiving festivities are full of joy or look more like a war zone, one thing remains certain: the right drink makes any celebration better.

We'd never leave you high and dry in this time of need, so here's our survival guide to making a bad Thanksgiving good, and a good Thanksgiving great.

For the Early Planner:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
  • 6 oz. cranberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 10-20 sprigs of fresh sage

Serving suggestion:

Pour 1.5 - 2 oz. of the cranberry and sage infusion over ice and top with soda water. 1 infused bottle yields 10-15 cocktails.

Preparation:

  1. Place cranberries and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and stir.
  2. Simmer the cranberry mixture until the berries burst, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the cranberry mixture to cool completely.
  3. Place sage leaves in the bottle of Belle Isle Premium Moonshine, and add the cranberry mixture once it has cooled.
  4. Store in a cool, dark spot for 3 to 5 days.
  5. Strain the spirit and save the cranberries for a garnish.

FOR THE CROWD-PLEASER:

Ingredients:

  • 1 bottle Belle Isle Honey Habanero
  • 1 cup Grand Marnier (or your choice of orange-flavored liqueur) 
  • 2 liters apple cider (store-bought or your favorite homemade recipe)
  • 2 oranges, cut into wedges
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Preparation:

  1. In a 4 liter+ beverage dispenser, combine the apple cider and Grand Marnier.
  2. Add the orange wedges and cinnamon sticks, then stir to combine. Let the mix stand and infuse for as long as desired.
  3. Right before serving add the Belle Isle Honey Habanero and stir again.
  4. Serve over ice in a rocks glass.

1 batch yields approximately 15-20 cocktails.


FOR THE SIDELINER:

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
  • 1/2 oz. pecan-walnut simple syrup*
  • 3 oz. Crispin Pacific Pear Cider

Preparation:

  1. In either a chilled glass or a over a big rocks cube, combine the Belle Isle Premium Moonshine and pecan-walnut simple syrup.
  2. Top with Crispin Pear Cider, stir lightly, and garnish with a dash of cinnamon.

*Pecan-Walnut Simple Syrup

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon or 2 cinnamon sticks

Yields 1 cup of simple syrup.

Preparation:

  1. Place pecans & walnuts into a saucepan, then top with 1/4 cup of sugar & cinnamon. Toast on medium heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the rest of the sugar & 1/2 cup of water. Turn the heat to high, bring to a boil and stir.
  3. Once the mixture has come to boil, remove from heat and continue stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Let the simple syrup cool, then seal in a container and refrigerate.

How Our Habaneros Grow

InfusionsElizabeth Fuqua1 Comment

At Belle Isle, we are extremely conscientious about the ingredients that go into our spirits. We don’t call it “premium moonshine” for no reason. When we first started making our moonshine, we didn’t want to use just any grain. We opted to take a more difficult route by using only 100% organic corn that we then triple distilled to give our spirits a clean, pure taste and finish. 

Day 12: Candy Cane Infusion

InfusionsElizabeth FuquaComment

Welcome to Day 12 of our second 12 Days Of Infusions! A big thanks to all the bartenders who helped us out with this year's series. T Leggett finishes off this year with a Candy Cane infused moonshine, cocktail and Christmas Tree tincture recipe. Cheers & happy holidays from the Belle Isle Craft Spirits team!