Tomorrow is the Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), and it is not too late to make your own fig vodka in his honor. Why fig vodka? To make a Lady Continence cocktail, of course, one of our favorite recipes in Drinking with the Saints (see below). In case you were wondering, the fig pays tribute to St. Augustine’s conversion, which took place under a fig tree, while the name “Lady Continence” evokes a vision of the virtue of continence Augustine had shortly before converting.
To make fig-infused vodka…
Start with a liter of vodka (we recommend Tito’s) and 2 1/2 ounces of dried figs (we had ours blessed during a traditional blessing of herbs and fruits on the Feast of the Assumption).
Dice or quarter the figs into small pieces. This allows the figs to infuse the vodka more quickly–and to get in and out of the bottle easily.
You can either put the figs directly into a bottle of vodka or, as we have done, put them into a specially designated bottle (with a homemade label) and pour vodka on top of them.
The recipe we consulted requires you to refrigerate the bottle of figs and vodka for three days, lightly shaking twice a day. We found, however, that if you keep the mixture at room temperature and shake lightly a few times, it will be ready in a matter of hours (six or eight and certainly within twenty-four). You will know when the vodka is ready when it turns a beautiful figgy color–and tastes like fig.
When the mixture is ready, strain the figs out of the bottle with cheesecloth, and voila! you have very own fig-infused vodka.
Fig vodka is actually a good after-dinner sipping drink, but it also goes well in a Drinking with the Saints original, the Lady Continence:
2 oz. fig vodka
½ oz. lemon juice
simple syrup made from 1½ tsp. honey and 2½ tsp. water (warm both in a saucepan and stir until honey is dissolved)
1 sliced fresh fig for garnish (if you can find one)
Pour all ingredients except fig into a shaker with ice and shake forty times. Strain into a cocktail glass or an old-fashioned glass filled with ice and garnish with half a fig.
A toast to Saint Augustine: may our daily conversion be as sweet as the fruit of the fig tree and as intoxicating as a Lady Continence.