This post was made in partnership with Everclear. Recipe and ideas are my own.
For years, whenever I ate out at an Indian Restaurant, I somehow overlooked the self serve bowl of seedy bits by the cash registers. Maybe I did notice, but not having a clue as to what it was (or thinking to even ask), it fell off my radar. And then I met my husband, who is half Indian, and going out to Indian restaurants with his mom became a whole new experience. Besides getting stuff not on the menu, or having food cooked a particular way (hello extra spicy!), I began to notice the unspoken ritual at the end of the meal. A small spoonful of those seedy bits, poured into a palm, and eaten, or rather, crunched on.
Those seedy bits were usually fennel seeds, plain, sometimes with brightly sugar coated seeds, other times a mix of those and aniseed. Each restaurant had its own mix. It was not usually presented to the diner. It would sit quietly at the register, or sometimes at the end of a buffet. It was a ritual that didn’t need to be spoken of, one just consumed it. I learned it was to help digestion, fennel seed naturally helping in that department, with the potential to cleanse one’s breath after a meal.
So I began to try a spoonful after a big meal (a little too much that first time), and I think it did help digest the meal a little quicker, and easier, than if I hadn’t eaten any. And today I thought I’d turn towards making a liquid version of this helpful digestif: Fennel Liqueur.
Making this liqueur is easy, but takes some time. I’ve made a smaller batch to cut down on the steeping time, and also because I make a lot of infusions and don’t need so many full size bottles. I’d imagine if you’re trying this out for yourself you’d like to keep the sample down to a manageable size as well.
For the base liquor I’m turning to
Everclear, one of my favorites for infusions and when I’ll be cutting the strength of the ABV down. Everclear has a clean, neutral taste so there aren’t any surprise flavors when I’m making an infusion. With the higher ABV, it also means that after cutting the infused liquid I will not end up with a watered down liqueur.
The liqueur is just sweet enough, as the fennel itself has its own sort of sweetness along with that slightly numbing anise flavor. The aroma is exactly as you’d expect: strongly fennel. After a few sips I do feel like it’s helping move the meal along, as a proper digestif should.
Here are a few ways to use the liqueur:
over ice with a squeeze of lemon
with a splash of dry orange curaçao and tonic water
neat, in a tiny glass, pinky up
*Note: if you’d like to make a larger batch, adjust sugar as needed to your tastes.
fennel seeds, lightly crushed
16 ounces Everclear
16 ounces water, filtered
10 ounces granulated sugar
In a sterile, air-tight glass jar, combine fennel seeds and Everclear. Seal, shake to combine, and let sit, giving a shake every day or so, for 2 weeks.
After 2 weeks, taste and if the fennel flavor is strong enough for your taste, strain the seeds out through a fine mesh strainer, reserving fennel infused Everclear. Discard seeds. Set liquid aside.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Stir to dissolve sugar. Once dissolved, remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Once cool, combine fennel infused Everclear with the simple syrup in a new airtight container. Store in a cool, dark place. For optimal flavor, use within 6 months.