Ratafia is my latest favorite Fruity HoochTM. This stuff hits the sweet spot between delicate/ladylike and stiff enough to put some serious lead in your pencil. I kid you not, the people of Andorno, Italy, allegedly survived the plague of 1000 AD by drinking ratafia. The name is said to come from the fact that its inventor's son was able to ratify his wedding after not-dying from plague. If you have a fruit tree in your yard (or access to a lot of free fruit), make this! I have a quince tree and just can't eat enough Manchego to justify making a cubic yard of membrillo, so this year I decided to give booze a try. I made 20 pounds of quinces disappear.

You can find old-timey recipes all over the internet. But to make my quince version, take a few ripe, yellow quinces and rub the scurfy fuzz off the skin. Shred the fruit—core, skins and all—on a cheese grater. Stuff the shredded fruit into a large jar (I use half-gallon jars because I'm drowning in quinces), then add a cinnamon stick and a couple of cloves to the jar. Pour in about a half cup of sugar, then top off the jar with vodka or brandy. Leave this to steep for about a month or three, then strain into pretty bottles. Drink the cordial chilled or as a float on a glass of your favorite dry bubbly.