Honey & Saffron Liquor

by Maggie Battista on March 6, 2011

in All Recipes, Drinks, Featured, Food Gifts, Fruit

Honey and Saffron Liquor - Jane Lawson, Eat Boutique

I’m no stranger to a good homemade cordial. J’adore the mix of instant and delayed gratification from the infusing process. Liquors generally need to stew for weeks or even months to fully form and then morph into all sorts of directions over time, but most recipes take mere minutes to come together. And I am instantly attracted to an instant recipe, so it’s no surprise that I typically first tackle cordial recipes in any new cookbook.

While you’ve likely seen my blog posts for tart Rhubarb Cordial, creamy Homemade Baileys and different types of lemon-infused drinks (Limoncello and Meyer Lemon Liquor, where you should leave your vote because I’ll be tasting soon), I perform a lot of experiments that rarely see the light of day. My freezer hosts a few successes. For example, I’m on my last few ounces of a Kumquat Liquor made four years ago that I plan to reproduce the moment I lay my eyes on the perfect specimens.

My cupboard, though, is filled with lots of trials in-process, like a Seckle Pear Infused Vodka that seems to need another zillion years to form and the largest jar of Cherry Bourbon you’ve ever seen due to an impulse buy of organic Washington Bing cherries last June. I sneak a cherry every now and then. You know, chef’s treat.

Honey and Saffron Liquor - Jane Lawson, Eat Boutique

Earlier this year, I visited Rabelais Books (Portland, Maine) in search of some new cookbooks. Instead of impulsing buying everything in sight, I asked one of the owners, Don, to tell me what he’d buy. He happened to be carrying Jane Lawson’s latest tome, a tribute to cold weather Northern European cuisine with the photography and book design of a modern day 1970s ski lodge. Since the Australian cookbook author’s books are rarely available in the States, I grabbed it fast and have pretty much been in love ever since.

While many favor her recipes for ‘Meatballs with a Vodka Dill Cream Sauce’ – and I do too – she actually has pages and pages dedicated to infused cordials and warming cocktails. My first recipe was her Honey and Saffron Liquor, just in time for a winter visit from Chloe and Dennis (also Eat Boutique contributors). Within a simple seven days, I had a one-liter jar of heaven to sip by the fire (not at one sitting, of course). And now over a month later, the liquor has only gotten better.

Fully formed and completely aromatic, this cordial will be a staple in my pantry and freezer no matter what the season, because I always have a taste for saffron, honey and vodka. (Um, who doesn’t?) And now that spring is springing, I top off a couple tablespoons of this stuff with some Champagne. Sipping my instant cocktail, I feel like, indeed, spring is in the air, almost instantly.

Honey and Saffron Liquor - Jane Lawson, Eat Boutique

Honey and Saffron Liqueur
Recipe adapted from Jane Lawson’s “Snowflakes and Schnapps”

–      350 g (12 oz/1 cup) honey
–      1/2 vanilla bean, finely chopped
–      1 cinnamon stick
–      10 black peppercorns
–      1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
–      a small pinch of saffron threads
–      3 strips of lemon zest, white pith removed
–      750 ml (26 fl oz/3 cups) Polish vodka

Put the honey, 125 ml (4 fl oz/ 1/2 cup) water, the vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, nutmeg and saffron in a saucepan and bring just to the boil. Quickly reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest and set aside to infuse for 20 minutes. Reheat until simmering, then remove from the heat, cool completely, strain, then stir in the vodka. Carefully pour into a sterilized airtight bottle and allow to steep for a week. Serve chilled or slightly warmed.

Makes about 1 liter for sipping or dozens of Champagne cocktails.

A huge welcome and thank you to new Eat Boutique contributor, Jill Chen. Jill is a photographer in Toronto, Canada and photographed this liquor for Eat Boutique. (Her liquor happens to be a bit lighter in color than mine; the color of the honey you use will decide your liquor’s tone. I used a dark clover honey.) Jill Chen also blogs about her homemade urban life and her beautiful chickens, among other topics, at Freestyle Farm.

Honey and Saffron Liquor - Jane Lawson, Eat Boutique

Maggie Battista

Founder at Eat Boutique
Maggie, is the founder of Eat Boutique. She started Eat Boutique as a blog in 2007, and sold out of her first gift box of small batch independent food in 2009. Maggie continues to offer unique and delicious handmade food in tasting subscriptions and seasonal gift boxes for food fans and home cooks. Maggie also hosts Eat Boutique Markets, where she spotlights cookbook authors and food makers. She’s written for Style Me Pretty, Food52, Time Out New York, Spencer Magazine, and writes a cocktail column for the popular wedding blog, Snippet & Ink. Maggie's also created retail experiences for the largest floral and event design company in New England. She regularly travels far distances to find the next great chef, farmer, food maker or host. You can follow her worldwide – and homemade – gastronomic adventures on Twitter at @mizmaggieb or @eatboutique. Maggie's first-ever cookbook Food Gift Love will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in October 2015. You may pre-order now.


  • Jane L

    Hey Maggie,
    Thanks so much for your kind words re Snowflakes and Schnapps. Much appreciated. Love your blog!!
    Cheers, Jane Lawson

  • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

    Thank YOU, Jane. I’m enjoying very page in your book. I’ve made the meatballs, pretzels, cordials (of course) and mulled wine and will continue to cook from it (no matter the season). Also, the design is SO thoughtful. I remember my first week with it, I was hugging it and toting it around like a new toy, like a child. It’s very special to me. Thanks for sharing it with the world, new friend! Warmly, Maggie

  • Jane L

    I can’t tell you how lovely that is to hear. I will pass on your comments to designer extraordinaire Reuben Crossman who evolved my original ideas for the aesthetic into something better than I had ever imagined. The stylist, food prep people and photographer were all amazing and really got into it – without them it would not have been the beautiful beast it is. Even the snow scenes were manufactured with “fake snow” and fallen branches etc in downtown Sydney!! I carried the brick of a thing around with me for a while too!! I even have it with me in Japan which makes me miss my oven – winter just isn’t the same without being able to roast a slab of pork belly!! Cheers, Jane x

  • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

    Jane, first, I love your book (and appreciate all that stylist work to make it so beautiful and hefty) but then you love pork belly?! We always make bacon or slow smoke a belly. (Full confession: I tend to like slow smoked pork belly in the summer too!) Have a lovely day and thank you for the comments!! Warmly, Maggie

  • http://www.aplumbyanyothername.blogspot.com A Plum By Any Other Name

    I love a good cordial recipe too … and this spicy one sounds right up my alley. And because it doesn’t take too much of a commitment, I will soon be sipping this delicious cocktail. A nice thought for a Monday. Oh, isn’t life just so sweet. :)

  • http://www.ladygouda.blogspot.com Shelby (Lady Gouda)

    I have seen Maggie’s homemade cordial collection firsthand. The first time I visited her cozy home, I saw huge jars with seckle pears and bright sunny liquids. She sort of shrugged it off, saying something like “oh yeah, those are my liquors- they are all in different stages of seeping.” Then she snuck me my own “cook’s treat” of a bourbon soaked cherry and I think my life was changed forever. This post has reaffirmed that I need to start my own homemade collection of boutique moonshine!

  • Jane L

    ooooh slow smoked pork belly…
    crack open a bottle – I’ll be over in a tick!

  • P.

    Hello Maggie,
    A great presentation of a very interesting take on our traditional Krupnik. What honey did you use? Light tasting or more on the stronger side? I usually make Krupnik with a stringer tasting honey, like buckwheat honey, but perhaps the saffron would be lost in it. Oh and as a general tip, that we practice here, its always better to use a high percentage alcohol, I use a 98% Spriytus, as the base. Even cutting spirytus with water to the same percentage as wódka is prefered, the resulting liquor will have more pronounced and cleaner flavours.

    • http://www.eatboutique.com Maggie

      Hello Paul, Thanks for your comment! I used a dark clover honey for my version, though Jill, the photographer, used a lighter honey. I have a feeling that buckwheat may be strong with saffron, but if you try it, let me know. I used a Polish vodka for mine and it was very nice. Jill, the photographer, used a lovely American vodka. I do not think they sell Spriytus in the States, but I will look for it. Thank you for your post!

  • Julia

    I absolutely love Rabelais Books. Every town needs one. Or we could all just move to Portland, Maine! Thanks for this recipe. I’ll try this soon. Imagine all the different flavors you could create by using different types of honey. You could even get some very earthy flavors if you use forest honey. YUM! Do you know about the Cold River Vodka which is also from Maine?

  • Julia

    P.S. If you like Jane Lawson’s writing, you may enjoy Scandi Foodie’s blog. I spent five years living in Australia and will probably always be partial to Australian food and Australian cookbooks!

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  • Sue

    How I wish most home made liquors didn’t call for vodka. Massively allergic :-(

  • Woody

    Hey Maggie.

    Here is my Irish cream for you and your followers to share.
    My way of saying thanks for the Honey and Saffron … Yum.

    WILLIAM | hall

    IRISH | cream

    Irish Whisky 400ml – Jameson
    Can of Condensed Milk 400ml (395g tin) – Carnation
    Small Carton of UHT Long Life Low Fat Milk – 400ml – Rev
    2 Eggs, 60’s
    Thickened Full Cream 400ml
    1/4 Cup Kahlua Liquor
    1/4 Cup Fine Caster Sugar
    1/4 Cup Chocolate Syrup (ice cream topping) – Cottees
    2 Tablespoons Coffee and Chicory Essence (iced coffee mix) – Bushnells
    1 Tablespoon Finely Ground Fresh Nutmeg
    1 Tablespoon Finely Ground Fresh Cinnamon
    Hand Whisk
    2 clean 700ml liquor bottles with caps.

    Break eggs into a large bowl and lightly whisk until the egg is combined, add all of the ingredients in a large bowl and bring together with a whisk. Add the condensed milk first then use the empty condensed milk can can to measure out the Whisky, Cream and UHT Milk, as they are they same quantities for each.
    Pour combined ingredients into a blender and whizz for 1 minute on high.
    Decant into 2 clean glass 700ml liquor bottles, cap and store in refrigerator.
    Keep in the fridge, use within a few weeks (use the cream use by date).
    Serve cold over ice, in coffee or over ice cream.

    Makes 1200 ml.

    Don’t use fresh milk instead of UHT, it doesn’t keep as well and doesn’t taste or pour as good.
    Bottle must be cleaned and soaked in very hot 70C water, including the caps.
    If you use shop bought ground nutmeg, use a fresh pack.
    Don’t over blend, or the eggs will start to scramble!
    Always premix the eggs first and combine the ingredients in a bowl before blending to keep blending time as short as possible.

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