Homemade blackberry vodka: Berry nice; bargain price

There’s something very berry nice about a wee nip of flavoured vodka on a cold winter’s evening. Only if you’re a starving PhD student who is working hard to trim her budget, it’s difficult to justify the extra costs.

Of course, if you’re a starving PhD student who knows how to make her own flavoured vodka, and you have a bit of patience, then you’re in luck!

And as luck would have it, I know how to do it. (The patience is a little more tricky, but I’ve managed. Just.)

Now, I realise that flavoured vodka isn’t the most expensive of tipples, but if you’re counting your pennies then you might as well save a few here. After all, a bottle of pre-flavoured stuff can set you back £20 – nearly twice the cost of making your own. You see, because you’re flavouring it, you can buy the cheap-and-cheerful store-brand vodka as your base – which is less than £10 (depending on your store of choice). The berries are free (if you’re willing to pick them) and the sugar is really cheap. 

So, if you’re ready to save a few a lot of pennies, here’s how you do it:

To start, take yourself on a lovely walk somewhere to gather berries. Yes, this can be done for free and is a great way to get a bit of (free) exercise and (free) entertainment at the same time. You’ll want 2-4 cups for every 70cl (24 ounces) of vodka you’re using, although you can use more or less as desired.

Once you’ve gathered your berries, wash them up and check for bugs (bugs are only for tequila!) before placing them in a large container with a lid. (Gallon jars are perfect for this, but Rubbermaid containers work, too.) Sprinkle about 1 cup of sugar over berries (more or less as desired; you can add more during the “curing” process if you decide you want a sweeter drink, but you can’t take it out so err on the side of caution here). Then, pour in the vodka, stir, and put a lid on it.

Stir or shake the vodka every day for the first week, then once a week for the next six weeks. Add more sugar at any point if you feel it’s needed. Let it stew for as long as you’d like, although I recommend a minimum of two months. (Longer if you can find the patience.)

When you’re ready to drink up, strain out berries and pour the liquid into bottles. Then, share and enjoy. (Well, you don’t have to share if you don’t wish. But definitely enjoy!)

As for me, I’ll share a bit and enjoy a bit, and I’ll hold some back to make a batch of my Grandfather’s “Cough Syrup”. The recipe doesn’t call for blackberry vodka, but I’m going to do some experimentation in the new year. Stay tuned for a recipe!

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