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HOMEMADE INFUSIONS and liqueurs create celebratory flavors for holiday celebrations. Steep cranberries in vodka, and a muted scarlet-ruby-colored liquid with sweet and sour overtones appears for the makings of a festive Italian-themed Negroni. A deep-dark-brown potion comes from bathing cocoa nibs in vodka. The chocolate liqueur with the essence of a chocolate brownie when added to a cup of Chocolate Chocolate Hot Chocolate brings decadent joy. Along with rejoicing and jubilation, the holidays hold sentiments of nostalgia. A Gingerbread Liqueur captures memories of decorating cookies spiced with ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and molasses. Add some cream to the liqueur and the season’s cocktail will be jolly. My first spirited infusion was the Stoli Doli — vodka infused with pineapple. At the Rainbow Ranch in Big Sky many years ago, a large jar packed with pineapple chunks sat behind the bar. A sip

of this infusion over ice brought me immediately to the tropics. The neutrality of vodka, a distillate of rye, wheat or potatoes, provides a blank background for fruits, herbs and plants to release their personalities. The alcohol intensifies the aroma and taste because of its volatility, especially carrying essences quickly to the olfactory nerve. Smell influences taste. A liqueur is usually a sweet alcoholic drink that is savored after a meal. Sweet is a personal preference. Play with the recipes. If ginger is what you love, add more ginger to the Gingerbread Liqueur. Throw in some dried cranberries for the infusion to intensify the taste. Chopped up chocolate can go into the chocolate concoction. Mostly, cheers for a joyful holiday. ✻

cranberry negroni A cranberry Negroni can be served in an ordinary glass or elegantly presented in a tall champagne flute. During the season when fresh cranberries are available, add a few to usher in the holiday spirit.

MAKES 1 DRINK 1 ½ ounce gin 1 ounce sweet vermouth 1 ounce Campari 1 ounce cranberry liqueur Orange wedge for garnish (optional) DIRECTIONS Place gin, vermouth, Campari and liqueur into a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake for 15 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass over ice. Garnish with an orange wedge.

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Yellowstone Valley Woman  

Yellowstone Valley Woman magazine was started in 2001 as a 40-page free publication in Yellowstone County. Over the years, thanks to your re...

Yellowstone Valley Woman  

Yellowstone Valley Woman magazine was started in 2001 as a 40-page free publication in Yellowstone County. Over the years, thanks to your re...