The idea had been brewing in my head since late summer. I intermittently thought about it, considered its inherent absurdity, then put it back in a dark mental corner to mature without the scrutiny of experimentation. I often use vegetable scraps for sauces and stocks, why not for liquor?
The idea fought its way into the light sometime in September or October, throwing itself into conversation with my sister while we were mutually food shopping. She raised an eyebrow and furrowed her forehead as I mentally berated the idea for escaping, See, I told you this would happen. She thinks you’re absurd, you’ve got to be patient. I’ll come for you when I’m ready.
I reinforced the bars keeping said idea in place and went about my business, weeks passed, then months. Then the weather changed, and just when I thought I had missed my chance (and that the idea might have to languish a full turn of the earth before seeing daylight) a pile of gnarled carrots caught my eye and fit the lock perfectly. The idea was free and it was time to play.
When the days are short and the nights are cold I turn my alcoholic attention toward the darker spirits in my cabinet. I’m not much of a rum person, but whiskeys, ryes, bourbons, and brandies all entice me. I’ve flavored their summer counterpart (the clear trifecta of vodka, gin, and tequila) by dropping a few aromatics into the bottle and wanted to do the same to my winter friends. I peeled ribbons of carrot, sweet, crisp, earthy, and stuffed them into empty mason jars. On top, I sprinkled whole, toasted caraway seeds, a flavor that puts me in two places at once: Nate ‘n’ Al’s deli in LA, and winter in Berlin. I favored those wintry memories of Germany and filled the waiting jars to their brims with whiskey.
With the tops screwed on, the only ingredient left to add was time. I allowed my idea two weeks gestation.
And when I unscrewed the lid 14 days later? A perfect waft of whiskey and caraway. Once sipped I noted the carrot’s tender influence, a gentle sweetness soothing the fiery bite of the original spirit. I strained the liquid through coffee filters and corked it in small bottles, a wonderful gift for the many holidays that cluster toward the end of the year.
1 quart Whiskey
½ pound Carrots (~2 med. carrots)
¼ cup caraway seeds
Peel the carrots until there is no carrot left, leaving yourself with a pile of ribbons. Stuff the ribbons into an empty quart-sized mason jar.
In a small saute pan, toast the caraway seeds over a medium-low heat until they’re fragrant. Pour them into the waiting jar.
Fill the jar with whiskey, covering the ribbons and seeds.
Screw a lid on tightly and store the jar in a dark place for at least two weeks.
When it’s ready, strain the liquor through coffee filters and decant into empty bottles.