As more and more craft cocktail bars create their own bitters, tinctures, and infused spirits, it’s natural to want to do the same at home (if you’re not doing it already). One of the best flavors to play with — especially around this time of year — is cinnamon. Warming from the first sip until the very last drop, cinnamon-flavored spirits are a perfect complement to all things holiday-related.
The thing about cinnamon-flavored spirits, though, is that they are not all great. Chances are you’ve had a night or two that ended with shots of Fireball, which was then followed by a morning-after from hell. That’s because many cinnamon liquors use a variety of additives; it’s also because a good many of those cinnamon-infused spirits just plain suck.
Cinnamon-flavored booze doesn’t have to suck, though. In fact, it can and should taste damn good. In order to get great-tasting cinnamon whiskey, all you have to do is make it yourself. It isn’t hard. You need a couple of ingredients, a bottle of whiskey you want to cinna-fy, and you’re practically there.
Read on to find how to make your own better-tasting cinnamon-infused whiskey.
How to Make Cinnamon Whiskey
Ingredients and Equipment:
- 1 bottle of bourbon*
- 8-10 cinnamon sticks
- 1/3 cup raw sugar
- 1 tbsp uncrushed red pepper flakes
- .5 tbsp vegetable oil (or peanut oil, if you prefer)
- 1 large resealable container
- 1 fine-mesh sieve
- Cheesecloth (optional)
*Note: When choosing a whiskey, there’s no need to go all out and buy a decades-old bottle from the top shelf. The cinnamon and spices you’re going to add will likely mask the subtle complexities that years of barrel aging have given the booze, so it’s okay to nab yourself a cheap bottle from the bottom rack.
- Pour the whole bottle of bourbon into your large container.
- Wrap the cinnamon sticks in cheesecloth to create a tea bag, then put it into the pitcher of whiskey to steep. This basically just makes them easier to remove. You can skip this step if you don’t mind fishing individual sticks out later on.
- Stir in the raw sugar. Let the whiskey and cinnamon sticks steep for up to eight days.
- Time for some chili oil. To make chili oil, grab a small nonstick pan and stir together your chili flakes and oil. Gently (very gently!) warm the oil and chili flakes over low heat for about five minutes. Remove from heat and allow the oil to cool completely before straining it through a fine-mesh sieve and transferring to a storage container (preferrably a squeeze bottle).
- Remove the cinnamon tea bag from the whiskey.
- Stir in two drops of the chili oil. Taste and adjust the level of chili oil to your liking.
- Return the flavored whiskey to a bottle that can be tightly sealed.
Once you’ve made your whiskey, the final step is choosing what kind of whiskey cocktail to put it in. Do you want to spice up your Old Fashioned? Add some heat to your Whiskey Sour? With your new cinnamon whiskey, the world is your rocks glass. Need some ideas? Check out these essential whiskey cocktails.
Article first published October 10, 2016. Last updated December 5, 2018.