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TIP OF THE DAY: How To Substitute Alcohol When Cooking

This week, one of our interns was heading home to bake a holiday cake.

It called for a tablespoon of whiskey, but she didn’t have any.

She did, however, have Cognac. We told her to use the Cognac instead.

Which brings us to today’s tip:

If your recipe calls for a spirit you don’t have, you can substitute one that you do have. Just try to keep it in the same “family.”

  • Bourbon, Cognac and Scotch are interchangeable.
  • Vodka and Tequila are interchangeable.

    Need a spoon of a spirit you don’t have? Substitute! Photo courtesy Farberware.

  • Liqueurs are interchangeable: one fruit liqueur for another, one nut liqueur for another, coffee liqueur for nut liqueur or chocolate liqueur, and so forth.
    The substitution will make a slight flavor difference, but it’s no different from, for example, using strawberry purée instead of raspberry purée, or cinnamon instead of allspice. The recipe still works, and nobody knows the difference. You may even prefer the substitute.

    Along the same lines, you can substitute red and white wines. If you don’t have any wine, use sherry.

    And if you have a situation we haven’t mentioned, use your judgment!


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