Basilcello and Crancello: Holiday Spirits Gift Ideas

December 10, 2009 · 3 comments

filed in: Drinks

Basilcello and Crancello:  Holiday Spirits Gift Ideas

Alcohol is a popular holiday gift, and my friends and family have been known to take a nip now and then. With that in mind, I read luculliandelights.com’s circa 2006 recipe for basilcello, an Italian basil-infused liqueur, with considerable interest. The drink sounded festive, unusual, and a perfect idea for homemade holiday gifts. This recipe idea also provided an excellent use for the overachieving basil plants in my home garden.

After testing the original basilcello recipe, I adapted it in three key ways: First, I thought additional basil was called for. Second, I used 90 proof vodka, which is readily available, for the alcohol base. And third, I found the original recipe to be oppressively sweet and used a much lighter syrup solution.

In addition, it occurred to me that a green herb “cello” also needed a red seasonal fruit “cello” companion to go with it for holiday gift giving purposes. Thus the origin of my second recipe below, for cranberry-based crancello, a name I’m afraid I made up. My apologies to Italians everywhere for taking such liberties with your beautiful language which, I believe, refers to cranberries as mertillo rosso.

For these basilcello and crancello recipes, which are presented separately below, the following general supplies are needed: a large stock pot, large glass bottles or jars for infusing the ingredients (gallon-sized glass jars are most convenient for this purpose), a sieve, a funnel, measuring cups, paper coffee filters, .375 liter glass bottles (6 for each recipe or 12 for both) with corks or screw-on lids, bottle shrink caps, and bottle labels (I made and printed my own).

Basilcello

basilcello ingredients

1.75 liters of 90 proof vodka
approximately 120 fresh basil leaves
6 cups water
3 cups sugar

basilcello preparation

  1. Meticulously clean the containers, stock pot, sieve, funnel, measuring cups, and six .375 liter bottles to be used for this recipe, preferable using a dishwasher set to the hottest cycle.
  2. Place basil leaves in large glass container(s). Pour in the vodka, tightly close the container’s cap or lid, and briefly shake the ingredients. Set the container(s) aside in a dark place to infuse the ingredients for a minimum of 5 days, briefly shaking the ingredients two or three times each day.
  3. At the end of this period, at which point the alcohol infusion should be bright green, prepare a syrup. In a large stock pot, bring the sugar and water to a boil and stir for two minutes until the sugar is fully dissolved. Set the pot aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. When the syrup is fully cooled, pour the basil/alcohol infusion through a sieve into the syrup. Discard all basil leaves. Wash the glass container(s) used for the infusion. Pour the alcohol/syrup mixture through a funnel lined with a paper coffee filter back into the the glass container(s) used for the infusion stage. Cover until ready to bottle the basilcello.
  5. Pour the basilcello through a funnel into the six prepared .375 liter bottles. Cork or screw on the bottle caps, as applicable.
  6. If using bottle shrink caps, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and take the pan off the burner. Place a shrink cap on each bottle and, holding it carefully, briefly dip the neck of the bottle into the hot water to set the shrink caps. If using labels, apply one to each bottle.

Crancello

crancello ingredients

1.75 liters of 90 proof vodka
3 cups (12 ounces) fresh cranberries, very coarsely chopped
zest of one orange
6 cups water
4 1/2 cups sugar

crancello preparation

  1. Meticulously clean the containers, stock pot, sieve, funnel, measuring cups, and six .375 liter bottles to be used for this recipe, preferable using a dishwasher set to the hottest cycle.
  2. Place chopped cranberries and orange zest in large glass container(s). Pour in the vodka, tightly close the container’s cap or lid, and briefly shake the ingredients. Set the container(s) aside in a dark place to infuse the ingredients for a minimum of 5 days, briefly shaking the ingredients two or three times each day.
  3. At the end of this period, at which point the alcohol infusion should be bright red, prepare a syrup. In a large stock pot, bring the sugar and water to a boil and stir for two minutes until the sugar is fully dissolved. Set the pot aside to cool to room temperature.
  4. When the syrup is fully cooled, pour the cranberry/alcohol infusion through a sieve into the syrup. Discard the cranberries and zest. Wash the glass container(s) used for the infusion. Pour the alcohol/syrup mixture through a funnel lined with a paper coffee filter back into the the glass container(s) used for the infusion stage. Cover until ready to bottle the crancello.
  5. Pour the crancello through a funnel into the six prepared .375 liter bottles. Cork or screw on the bottle caps, as applicable.
  6. If using bottle shrink caps, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil and take the pan off the burner. Place a shrink cap on each bottle and, holding it carefully, briefly dip the neck of the bottle into the hot water to set the shrink caps. If using labels, apply one to each bottle.

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    { 3 Comments...read them below or add one }

    Sharon December 20, 2010 at 10:38 am

    I’m so excited to try this! They look amazing!

    Reply

    Ashley December 17, 2009 at 2:15 am

    This is the most stunning homemade gift I have seen. Thank you so much for this recipe and gorgeous photos.

    Reply

    Barbara December 18, 2009 at 11:30 am

    You made my day! I use a basic point & shoot camera and have so very much to learn about photography.

    Reply

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