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Using Spirits, Beer, Wine, Etc. in Cooking


lperry
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It's not difficult for me to use up the last of a bottle of wine when I'm cooking. If it doesn't go into the sauce, it will be used for deglazing. Beer and spirits are another issue altogether. Neither Mr. lperry nor I drink beer, and we end up with bottles of it in the fridge because we bought it for guests or they brought some over when they visited. I have one recipe for beer bread, and I don't like it a whole lot. I've been eyeing a recipe on Epicurious for a Guiness cake with a leftover bottle of stout in mind, but I've been trying to limit baking to breakfast.

Then there is the last bit in the bottom of a bottle of spirits that has been deemed no longer sippable, so it languishes in the cabinet taking up a bottle's worth of space. Bourbon is less of a problem because I'll use it to soak dried fruit when making a cake or stir some into the bananas for banana bread (that one is really good). But then there's the scotch, and the Canadian whisky, and various other things that were part of very nice evenings with friends.

I'm hoping that some of you have wonderful ideas for using up the last bits of various bottles of booze.

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It's not difficult for me to use up the last of a bottle of wine when I'm cooking. If it doesn't go into the sauce, it will be used for deglazing. Beer and spirits are another issue altogether. Neither Mr. lperry nor I drink beer, and we end up with bottles of it in the fridge because we bought it for guests or they brought some over when they visited. I have one recipe for beer bread, and I don't like it a whole lot. I've been eyeing a recipe on Epicurious for a Guiness cake with a leftover bottle of stout in mind, but I've been trying to limit baking to breakfast.

Then there is the last bit in the bottom of a bottle of spirits that has been deemed no longer sippable, so it languishes in the cabinet taking up a bottle's worth of space. Bourbon is less of a problem because I'll use it to soak dried fruit when making a cake or stir some into the bananas for banana bread (that one is really good). But then there's the scotch, and the Canadian whisky, and various other things that were part of very nice evenings with friends.

I'm hoping that some of you have wonderful ideas for using up the last bits of various bottles of booze.

For both beer and spirits, I cook primarily with bottles that have plenty of flavor. Leftover American Lager and Vodka get stowed in a back corner of the fridge/freezer and I wait until some poor sap comes over who wants to drink them.

For a good flavorful beer, I like to make mustard with a beer base (lately w/a smoked porter), and if it's a sweet enough beer you can even reduce/thicken to make a beer sauce for roasted/grilled meats and veggies. Even sweeter? Beer ice cream?

Whisky is a bit trickier, but I imagine it could work well in an already flavorful braising liquid in small amounts. Google also turns up plenty of results if you're adventurous.

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Beer can be used as a braising liquid for a Flemish beef stew, with lots of onion.

Vodka can go into creamy tomato pasta sauce, or whiz it in a blender with lemon zest and then strain out the peel. Use in cocktails or chilled shots with smoked fish or caviar.

Any whiskey can be heated with some sugar to make a syrup to soak into holiday pound or fruit cakes

I've made Guiness stout ginger cake many times, from the Claudia Fleming dessert book The Last Course. Be sure to use regular molasses--the one time I used black strap molasses, the cake turned out unpleasantly bitter.

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Beer in chili. More substantial beer in beef stew. Bourbon in a marinade for pork, though it looks like that one is kind of covered.

(FWIW, I've never made/had a beer bread that I've liked. I've given up on that one.)

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If you have a grill a beer can and a chicken can make some lovely food. For the vodka you could make a vodka sauce? I have been trying to recreate the bourbon chocolate cake at Blue Duck for a friend when she comes to visit as she loves bourbon. If you have rum if you had some creme de banana you could make bananas foster?

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Rum in rum balls or chocolate truffles. (Various kinds of alcohol would work in the truffles.) Whiskey in fruitcake. (Oops, that's already mentioned.)

I once salvaged the last of an ancient dusty bottle of vodka by putting in a dessicated vanilla bean and making vanilla extract. That worked much better than I would have thought. When you're down to the dregs of a bottle, you don't lose too much by experimenting.

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Several of my friends in Kentucky keep a bottle of "House Whiskey" around. The last few ounces of a bottle of bourbon get chucked in there to mingle with other (bourbon or rye) bits and bobs, and it's usually a pretty decent dram.

I did something similar for my hip flask for Inauguration Day, and it was veddy veddy delish.

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Several of my friends in Kentucky keep a bottle of "House Whiskey" around. The last few ounces of a bottle of bourbon get chucked in there to mingle with other (bourbon or rye) bits and bobs, and it's usually a pretty decent dram.

I did something similar for my hip flask for Inauguration Day, and it was veddy veddy delish.

That "House Whiskey" would send me straight to jail. :rolleyes:
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I forgot about rarebit. That one I can do, but I'm not brave enough to try the mixed flask. Yikes.

I'm going to add to my own thread because I found a recipe for beer baked beans. I have some pumpkin ale (from last year) (I was serious about this being a problem), and I'm thinking this will use up a bottle or two of that, and then I'll toss in some of the thirty-odd pounds of calabaza that came out of the garden this year.

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