Infusing spirits with herbs, spices, botanicals and fruits are not only tasty, it’s rewarding to mix drinks with your own custom liquor flavor profile. What’s more is that it’s really very easy!
Infusions work well in simple drinks like pairing it with tonic water and lime but you can also use them to round out a much more intricate, complex cocktail. The only limit is your imagination!
Where to Start
Vodka offers the most versatile canvas with which to craft your masterpiece but you can successfully use more flavorful spirits like gin, tequila and light rum. You can use a darker liquor, but you’ll need to be careful to pair your ingredients with a complementary spirit as these already have a distinct flavor.
Sixteen ounces flip-top glass bottles are a great container for your tasty experiments, though quart mason jars will work as well. We recommend picking up some of the plastic mason jar lids as they are much easier to clean and last longer than the metal ones.
Lastly, you’ll need a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to strain the solid ingredients out after the recommended infusion time.
On to the Fun Part
Put together a little workstation for yourself on a clean table. You’ll need a cutting board, knife, funnel (if you’re using a flip-top bottle), fruits, veggies, herbs, spices or flowers and your freshly sanitized glass bottle of choice.
Start by cutting off the bits of your fruits, veggies or flowers you don’t want to influence the flavor of your finished spirit and chopping the good parts into a size that will fit through the opening of your container.
While steeping, keep your infusions in a cool, dark place and shake them a couple of times a day to incorporate the flavors more fully. You’ll want to taste your concoctions frequently to ensure you are getting the density of flavor you’re looking for. Some ingredients, like jalapenos will only need a couple of hours while others, like blueberries, peaches and rosemary will need a week or more.
List of 5 infusion drinks along with the ingredients and recipe
1. Vanilla Bean Infused Bourbon
Wash and cut the bean lengthwise and drop it into the container. Pour bourbon of choice into container. Infuse 3 to 5 days, shaking a couple of times a day and taste testing along the way. The best part about this drink is that it has vanilla that means apart from infusion, you will even get the aroma of it. Over to that bourbon gives it a unique flavor.
- 8 ounces of your favorite Bourbon
- 2 vanilla beans split (any variety)
- 1 8.5 ounces swing top clear glass bottle
- Take the container and cut vanilla beans lengthwise
- Pour into bourbon into the same container
- Let it rest for 3 to 5 days
- Shake a few times daily so that infusion happens
- Strain the vanilla bean and serve
2. Mint Infused Vodka
This one is fun to have on hand for a minty Moscow Mule. You can put the mint in the container with the stems still on, making it super easy to strain them out later. You’ll want about a 2 to 1 ratio of spirit to mint, so 2 cups vodka to about a cup of fresh mint leaves. Slap the mint on your hand to start releasing the oils and toss them into your container, add the vodka, seal tightly and infuse for 5 days, shaking a couple of times a day.
- 2 cups vodka
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves (any variety will work, I've used orange mint, chocolate mint, and peppermint)
- 1 mason jar
- Take a container and put it into mint with stems still attached.
- Add mint in the ratio of 2 to 1
- Add 2 cups vodka cup to the fresh mint
- Crush the mint to release oils
- Seal tight and let it infuse for 5 days
- Strain and serve
3. Ginger Lemongrass Tequila
This is an Asian-Mexican fusion infusion and a darn good one. You’ll need a couple of stalks of lemongrass with the outer layer peeled off, the ends cut off and discarded and the remaining stalk cut into thin slices. Throw that in your container with a large piece of ginger (cut to fit your container opening) and a bottle of blanco tequila. Infuse for at least 2 weeks.
- 750 mL bottle of premium Blanco tequila
- 2 stalks of lemongrass
- 1 large piece of fresh ginger
- Infusion jar with a tight sealing lid
- Take lemon grass and peel off the cover
- Slice the lemongrass and add that into the container
- Add a slice of ginger
- Add some tequila to it
- Let it rest for 2 weeks
- Server after straining
4. Apple and Pear Infused Gin
You may have heard of recipes that use vodka, rum or tequila but you may rarely have heard of drinks or infusions that use gin. The reason is because gin is already so flavorful and it can completely overpower your drink. For the apple and pear infused gin, you want a bottle of gin and 4 red apples. Pears can be around 1/4th or more based on how you like the taste. This can make for a really
- 1 (750 ml) bottle gin (premium)
- 4 red apples
- 1 pear (red is recommended)
- 1/4 pound pears (dried)
- Take all the ingredients and cut the pear and apples in slices
- Take a huge jar and place these fruits at the bottom
- Pour in the gin over fruit and shake
- Seal the container tightly and store in a dark place
- Strain the fruits and wash the jar, Store as you do to other liquors
5. Green Tea Gin
You might have already guessed from the word Green tea gin that it's a liquor infusion made from green tea. The best part is that this infusion requires only 4 ingredients. Now if you don’t have any of the recipes like pistachio honey syrup then you can use maple syrup instead. At the same time you can use a nutty syrup or something that you already use as a natural sweetener.
For the Green Tea-Infused Gin:
- 1/4 cup green tea leaves
- 1 750ml bottle gin (Ford's Gin)
For the Salted Pistachio Honey Syrup:
- 1/2 cup pistachios (salted)
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/2 cup water
For the Cocktail:
- 1 1/2 ounces green tea-infused gin
- 1/2 ounce salted pistachio honey syrup
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- 3 to 4 dashes chamomile bitters (Olive Heights Roman Chamomile)
- Take all the ingredients and add them in an infusion bar
- Add tea leaves and fill it with gin
- Let it rest for 2 hours and then taste once
- Strain out the tea leaves and store the rest of the gin the same container
A complete Guide to Infusing Drinks
1. Know your base alcohol
This is the most important part of your infusion. Knowing what’s going to be your base alcohol. If you are just beginning to learn infusion then you should go with a mid-price alcohol that’s not too expensive and something that your palate is suited for. When it comes to choosing your base alcohol then make sure one rule: the higher the proof, more extraction power it’ll have.
The first alcohol in our list will be vodka since it’s not too strong to overpower and you can find it easily. Go with cotton candy vodka, bubblegum vodka or a marshmallow vodka. Do not hesitate to experiment a little with the types of vodka. When you want to infuse foods like bacon or oatmeal. You can easily do it all with vodka. There’s no limit. Think about it and you can infuse your food.
Gin is often considered the first love of people who like cocktails. It’s a mixture of herbs and other neutral grain alcohol.You will feel a different punch with gin and a bit of the martini’s hint in it. Some of the infusion flavors for you to try can be all the citrus fruits like lemon, cucumber, herbs like fennel and basil.
Who doesn’t wake up with that word? Tequilas are strong and have a very bold flavor to it. There are numerous flavors of it like the Gold tequila that has a caramel like flavor in it. Blanco which is an aged has a very simple yet punchy flavor. There’s another called reposado which is also aged and has an oak like flavor. You can use them to flavor along with chilli, citrus or tropical fruits, ginger, melon and other sweet herbs like mint, cinnamon
Rum is also very simple to understand and comes in various forms from dark to stronger and even more complex if you go in terms of age. The rule with Rum is that the lighter it is, the more adaptable it is to be used. When it comes to richness in flavors then it’s second only to tequila. You can use them with fruits like banana, coconut and apples. Another form is spiced rum which can be sweet but you can use it for a whole different flavor. Use elements like nutmeg, citrus, pineapple, mango and lychee for flavoring you infusion
Now brandy, as we all know, doesn’t have many fans as the drinks written above. Brandies are made from grapes and made to age in wooden casks for 2 to 6 years. Of course, the longer the aging, the more complex the alcohol will be. There are certainly high quality brandies like eau de vies which are quite fruity in nature go well with infusions. You can use anything from apricot, cherry, apple, pears to be used with brandy.
Whiskey, Scotch & Bourbon
Whiskey is a name that has a lot of things inside it. From the alcohol made to age in wooden barrels to some that are distilled and aged in steel barrels. There’s a lot that goes in a whiskey. Now when we talk about scotches, they are also very powerful and contain a lot more flavor than other drinks. You have to be a bit careful when infusion scotches. Bourbon is a premium brand that offers more flavors like fruity punch and can be infused with apple, cherry, plum and other ingredients.
2. Know your base ingredients
Fruits and Berries
The process to use any fruit is quite simple. As you would, wash fruits and peel them off. Certain fruits like apple and pears can be peeled or just let them be. Let go off parts that you would otherwise not touch like the stems, cores. Rough chop or just slice a large fruit. For berries and cherries, just crush down at the base of your infusion.
If you’re using citrus fruits then you actually need the zest and not the whole fruit. Citrus zest can be used to infuse for 5 days and for others, it depends on your booze.
When it comes to infusion with nuts. It can be quite tricky. Try to shell your nuts so that the texture of nuts can come in contact with the booze you are going to infuse with. Now if you are using a booze that’s golden or brown based, you better toast your nuts until they are golden brown. You can also chop your nuts and add them to your base. For every 1 cup, you need 2 cups of base and let it infuse for a day or two.
Dried fruit infusions are one of the fastest to make. They bring out the flavor quicker than others and mix well with most drinks. When it comes to using dried fruits, ensure they are natural and don’t have any heavy preservatives used. As far as infusing them is concerned. You can let it rest for days to a few months.
Spices, Dry Goods
Probably the easiest things to infuse are spices and dry goods. All you need is a container with booze and then add some spices to top it. Make use of spices like fennel, star anise. With some spices you have to be quite careful when you are using vanilla, less is always enough. Feel free to add more than two spices at a moment.
Vegetables, roots, herbs and flowers
If you are going to use vegetables, better use root vegetables that can be peeled and trimmed. Vegetables can be allowed to infuse for 3 to 7 days. Some popular veggies are cucumber, beet, carrot and horseradish. You can add some flowers like hibiscus that can give a unique flavor to your infusion. Either crush them or just add as a whole.
3. Infusing the drinks
Prep and mix
Now that you’re clear about your booze and the elements to be added. It’s time to add them to a mason jar. Add your ingredients to the alcohol base and add it to the container. Close the lid of your mason jar and keep it at a cool place.
Once a while, you need to shake the jar so that the flavors are mixed well. You can also taste the infusion once in a while and see how it’s coming up.
Good things come to those who wait. No matter what drink you use or what ingredients you have at your disposal. You need to wait for the infusion to come up well. You can infuse them for a week or two. If it’s with dried fruits then you can let the infusion age longer. Alcohol extracts when added with bitter notes like coffee, tea, cocoa, herbs and spices.
Strain and filter
Now the final step is when you have strained the concoction. Let it strain through the kitchen strainer so that you remove any chunks. You can use cheesecloth to remove any residual sediment.
These are some basic ideas for crafting your first infusions. Get creative and think about matching flavors to spirits, if a spicy salsa tastes good to you while drinking a margarita, try a jalapeno and cilantro infused tequila. There are no rules so if you have an idea, give it a try (maybe with a cheaper bottle of your base spirit to start). Just remember to taste frequently.