Infusing spirits with herbs, spices, botanicals and fruits is not only tasty, it’s rewarding to mix a drink 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 a 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 ounce 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 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.
Here are a couple ideas to get you started:
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 times a day and taste testing along the way.
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 times a day.
Ginger Lemongrass Tequila
This is an Asian-Mexican fusion infusion, and a darn good one. You’ll need a couple 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.
And We’re Off
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.