I love making homemade spirit infusions and syrups for cocktails, especially during the holidays. Not only do they make great gifts, but they enable you to make truly unique signature cocktails for any gathering! This gingerbread rum is infused with the flavors of gingerbread. You’ll note that I didn’t call it gingerbread infused rum because I didn’t stuff any cookies into the bottle! The rum uses ginger, cinnamon, cloves, allspice, vanilla and, of course, molasses to give it the same warm spice that you might find in a gingerbread cake or cookie, but in liquid form.
I describe this as an infused rum, rather than a liqueur, because it isn’t very sweet. While some molasses has been added, it’s not enough to make a big dent in the overall sweetness of the rum – especially since molasses is more bittersweet than sugary-sweet to begin with. I could have added a bunch of brown sugar to make this taste even more like liquid gingerbread, but I felt like that would have limited its usefulness. While you could pour a super-sweet liqueur over ice as a holiday treat, it is easy to add sugar (or simple syrup) to a flavorful rum/vodka infusionD to make it sweet as needed.
When it comes to making homemade infusions, you’re adding a lot of elements to the rum so you don’t need to use the absolute top-of-the-line spirits. That said, the better the base rum that you choose is, the better your final infusion is going to be. I recommend using an aged rum for this recipe and most golden-colored rums are clearly labeled with an age statement of some kind. For the rum pictured here, I used Flor de Cana 4 year. If you want to make your infusion a little more flavorful, splurge on Zaya rum, which has some strong vanilla notes that will go well with the spices you’re adding in. You can use a dark rum, such as Meyers, but you may need to increase the spices you are using because the rum has a potent molasses flavor already. You can get away with using a white rum, but don’t start with a spiced rum because many of them are already sweetened and their spices may conflict with the spices from the infusion.
For those who might be wondering, I opted to start this infusion with rum because most rums are made from molasses. Though they are not sweet, rums often have some notes of the molasses on their nose (better rums often have a lot, along with tropical fruit, caramel and vanilla notes), it makes a good base for the gingerbread. You can do this with vodka, but you might want to add in a little extra molasses to get a richer flavor.
It takes a minimum of 3 days to get a good infusion and I would recommend letting it sit for a few days longer if you have the time. After the infusion is complete, strain out the solids and transfer your rum to a new container. The infused rum will keep just about indefinitely, though you’ll probably get through a batch this season if you do a lot of entertaining!!
Update: Once you make a batch, try making this Gingerbread Cookies ‘n Cream Cocktail. If you are making this for a gift, write up the cocktail recipe on a card and tie it around the neck of a bottle as part of the present!
Homemade Gingerbread Rum
1 bottle rum (preferably an aged rum, see above notes)
1/4 cup molasses
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into quarters
4 3-inch cinnamon sticks
2 tsp whole cloves
2 tsp whole allspice
2 tsp vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a bottle or large mason jar (pour off a few tablespoons of rum, if necessary). Shake well and set aside to infuse for 3-5 days days. Shake once a day to agitate the spices.
Strain solids out of the rum and rebottle or pour into a mason jar. Store at room temperature
Makes 1 bottle.