I imagine that for many Americans, the phrase "homemade liquor" conjures up images from the bygone era of Prohibition: clandestine stills, bootleggers, and moonshine. Though these days a quick trip to the local liquor store will snag you a fine bottle of wine, spirits or liqueur with little effort, there's still something to be said for a little foray into the world of DIY. In the case of today's recipe, there's even more of an incentive to make it yourself: the product in question is unavailable outside of Argentina.
Americano Gancia is a light and refreshing aperitif produced here in Argentina since 1934. Its enjoyable citrusy flavor makes it an obvious choice in the summertime, but honestly, it hits the spot any time of year. Gancia is often served as an accompaniment to a picada—a selection of meats, cheeses, nuts and other goodies to nibble on—and it would make a fun addition to beer or wine at a barbecue or picnic. This recipe comes from Daniel's stepdad Tomás, who makes an excellent version of Gancia that is virtually indistinguishable from the commercially-made liquor. ¡Le sale rico!
So try your hand at a little homemade hooch—it's easier than you'd think. The only hard put is having enough patience to wait until it's ready.
Homemade Gancia | Gancia Casero
1 L 190-proof (95%) pure grain alcohol* such as Everclear or Golden Grain
4 L water**
3/4 c. (150 g) sugar
1-2 sprigs rosemary
3-4 whole cloves
*Due to its high alcohol content, pure grain alcohol (PGA) may not be sold in your area. If 190-proof is not available, you can substitute 151-proof PGA (75.5% alcohol) or a 100-proof (50% alcohol) vodka. The 190-proof PGA is the most desirable because it works the best at extracting flavor from the other ingredients. In Argentina, PGA (alcohol puro 96%) is readily available for sale at any pharmacy.
**Adjust the quantity of water according to the type of alcohol you're using, otherwise the final product will be too diluted:
3 L water:1 L 151-proof pure grain alcohol (e.g. Everclear 151)
1.75 L water:1 L 100-proof vodka
Chop the tangerine, orange, lemon and grapefruit (peels and all) into small pieces and place in a large glass jar or jug with a tight-fitting lid. Add the remaining ingredients and seal the jar. Shake until the sugar is completely dissolved. Store the jar in a cool, dark place, and give it a bit of a shake every day or so for 15-20 days. Strain the liquor using a funnel and a coffee filter to remove the pieces of fruit and spices. Bottle your finished liquor and seal tightly. Your homemade Gancia is now ready to enjoy! It tastes best when it's well-chilled.
How to Enjoy Your Homemade Gancia
- Mix with seltzer and a squeeze of lemon [as shown in the photo above]
- Add a splash of grapefruit or lemon-lime soda
- Whip up a Gancia Batido, a popular Argentine cocktail
Translated from the recipe at Gancia.com.ar
8 parts Gancia
2 parts lemon juice
1/2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
Combine Gancia, lemon juice, and powdered sugar in a shaker filled with 3 or 4 ice cubes. Shake well and pour into a Collins glass. Garnish with lemon slices.
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