In preparation for cooking from the Pok Pok cookbook this winter, L grabbed some galangal from the local Korean grocery. Only she picked up three pounds of it. After using the first bit, I froze the rest.  I knew I was coming up on the end of the useful life span of the remaining 3/4 of a pound and before 6 months was up, I wanted to make good use of the galangal. Short of ice cream or candy, my best guess was as a liquor. 

I wanted to keep those Pok Pok flavors in the liquor though, so I grabbed a thick stalk of lemongrass and added it to the peeled galangal in a huge jar with 800 mL of some of the cheapest vodka I have ever seen. I was morbidly curious, so I tasted the vodka first and lighter fluid may have had slightly more subtle notes. This was jet fuel, but it was less than $10 for a liter and a half.

So after covering the chopped aromatics with this jet fuel, I let it sit for a month. Over than time period, the clear liquid yellowed and mellowed. The edges were worn down and replaced with the sharp flavors of menthol and ginger from galangal and herbaceous citrus flavors from the lemongrass. The golden hue came with a slight haze, but the flavors were completely clear.

I made a drink on a perfect summer night, again trying to keep with those Pok Pok flavors adding lime juice and coconut water. The coconut water took the edges off even further and even softened the sharpness of the galangal. My biggest complaint was how little resistance the drink gave. These could do damage to sobriety before you had any idea it was time to slow down.

Combining a classic culinary pairing in a liquor isn’t new or fancy but it renews the question on what other classic pairings would make great liquor.

Galangal and Lemongrass Liquor

  • 800 g vodka
  • 250 g galangal, skin scraped off and cut into chunks (post scrape weight)
  • 75 g lemongrass, outer-casing removed and remainder chopped (post-outer casing removal weight)

Step one: Combine everything in a huge jar and muddle using a wooden spoon.

Step two: Let sit in a dark place for a month.

Step three: Strain and bottle.