Saturday, September 22, 2007

Ratifying the Ratafia

Inspired by a recent New York Times article by Pete Wells about ratafias, the homemade fruit liqueurs, I decided to try to make one myself. The recipe was easy enough, after all: wine, vodka, fresh fruit, vanilla bean and sugar.

To be honest, I had never heard of ratafia before I read the article, though the drinks have apparently been around for centuries. To my mind, they seem to be in the same family as sangria.

Red or white wine can be used. I went with a cheap Chilean Sauvignon Blanc I like as being suitably anonymous, yet flavorful enough as a base. For the quarter cup vodka, I used Stoli, simply because it was the only vodka I had in the house. I was going to make the ratafia solely with nectarines, but my wife ate one of the fruits I intended to use, so I came up short of the necessary cup of chopped fruit. I used a stray apple to fill out the balance.

After three weeks, I took the mixture out of the fridge and gave it a try. It was a lovely pale shade of peach and smelled heavily of the vanilla bean. I'd say the vanilla dominates the potion a tad too much, but otherwise it's a delightful, light and refreshing concoction. Perfect for summer. I think a stronger fruit would better challenge the bean, so I've just bought ripe mangoes for my next batch. I'm also going to try a cucumber version to use as a mixer in Pimm's Cups. I'll let you know how it turns out.

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