On Saturday night I hosted the first in a series of themed dinner parties in which guests prepare dishes that are unified by a single ingredient. October was easy – pumpkin. I decked the house out in a tamer iteration of the ramshackle Grey Gardens interior, screened Burnt Offerings and The Exorcist silently on the TV, and kindled a Duraflame in the fireplace. The evening was magnificent, in part because I had no idea what most people were going to bring, and it was a little bit like having a birthday and a whole bunch of presents to unwrap. Recipes will be posted throughout the week.
Two weeks prior, I decided to make some pumpkin-infused vodka for the event. There was a fair amount of research, which unearthed recipes calling for either raw pumpkin or canned pumpkin. Hrmm.
Instead, I got myself an adorable little sugar pie pumpkin, roasted it until soft, and scooped it into a wide-mouthed glass jar with a liter of vodka for about ten days. Eight days in, I added a sliced vanilla bean, two whole nutmeg seeds, and two sticks of cinnamon. The day of the event, I strained everything, added a splash of simple syrup made with brown sugar, and a touch of cream. Served over ice it is like consuming the perfect essence of pumpkin pie. Splendid.
2-3 lb. pie pumpkin
1 liter vodka
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
2 nutmeg seeds
2 cinnamon sticks
For the simple syrup and cocktail:
2 parts brown sugar
1 part water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Slice pumpkin in half, place flesh-side down in a pan filled with an inch of water. Roast until tender with fork, approximately 35 minutes.
Cool pumpkin in fridge. When ready to handle, scoop meat with spoon into a large, sealable glass jar and muddle with vodka. Give it a nice shake once a day.
Allow infusion to sit for at least one week – although more time is preferable.
Two days before straining, add sliced vanilla bean, nutmeg and cinnamon.
The day of, bring water for simple syrup to boil. Add brown sugar, and stir until dissolved. Allow to cool.
Add a splash of simple syrup – enough to sweeten the drink but not overpower it. Same goes for the cream. I would venture that I used about 1/4 cup of each for the liter of vodka. However, I’d recommend erring on the side of caution and first adding 1/8 cup of each – taste and add more if it’s not sufficient.
Serve over ice.