If you’re a little bored with cracking open that familiar bottle of wine or mixing your faithful vodka / lime +soda come weekend time, then it may be time to start thinking about infusing your own drinks.
Alcohol (and in particular vodka) can be infused with just about any fruit, herb, vegetable, seed or spice. The results are a fresh, natural and colourful base from which you can make all of your favourite drinks and cocktails, or simply enjoyed straight up, or over ice (cube or granita-style).
Also read WEEKEND DRINKS: GIN AND ROSE COCKTAIL
Swap out your plain vodka for any fresh-tasting home-made infusion, and watch your taste buds (and friends) appreciate the difference! Natural vodka infusions not only taste so much better than regular vodka (and MILES better than any of those pre-flavoured ones) but they look amazing as well. (A god-send if you’re no Martha Stewart.)
Gift Idea: Once you’ve mastered the technique, why not give a beautifully-presented vodka infusion as a fun and personalized gift?
So put aside your expectations of lab coats, science equipment and a Skype call with Heston Blumenthal because none of that is required. As it turns out infusing your own alcohol (we’re going to stick to vodka here) is waaaayyy easier than you think and you hardly even need a recipe to do it!
How to make vodka infusions:
- You’ll need one large-ish clean glass jar with airtight lid for each flavor. Mason Jars work great.
- Use a mid-range vodka such as Absolut. If you go too cheap: the alcoholic bite won’t sit well with the flavours you are trying to infuse. Too expensive: you won’t taste what you’ve invested in
- Wash everything thoroughly, but fruit such as berries and leafy herbs should be dry (no water residue)
- Fill the jars anywhere between 2/3 and completely full with your chosen flavours, but do not pack tightly. (For flavour suggestions, read below.)
- Pour the vodka into the jar to the top. Give the jar 4 – 5 shakes, and then let it sit. You can give it a gentle shake once per day, but it’s not essential.
- When you’re ready to serve your vodka, pour it through a fine wire strainer. If you do want a little pulp to be present when you drink it, just use a strainer with larger holes. You can drink the infused vodka straight, over crushed ice (granite-style) or mix it into a cocktail.
- Any leftovers can be kept in the airtight jar or bottle it in the fridge.
- The more surface area you expose of the item you are infusing = more flavour. So cut cucumbers and lemons into discs, halve strawberries, cube up mangoes etc.
- Lightly bruise any herbs (such as basil) before infusing
- You’ll need at least 3 days up your sleeve before serving to allow the flavours to infuse, so keep the jars in the fridge or a cool place.
- 3-4 days: Fresh herbs, vanilla beans, citrus.
- 1 week: Tree fruit (apples, pears, peaches), berries, and other conventional fruits with mild flavours
- 2 weeks: Whole chili peppers (halve the time if you cut them in half), cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger and similar ingredients
- Alcohol really draws out the colours and flavours of fruit so expect to see the fruit lose some colour
FLAVOURS TO GET YOU STARTED:
Blood Orange Pomegranate
Coffee and vanilla bean,
citrus of all kinds,
ginger and dried pear
You may also want to check out WEEKEND DRINKS: STRAWBERRY MARGARITA JELLY TREATS
Have you ever tried your hand at making vodka infusions? If so, what flavours worked best for you? Let us know if there are any must-try flavour combos in the comments below!