Step Up Your Cocktail Game with Vodka Infusions
Although the days of prohibition-era moonshine are over, more and more people are brewing and distilling their own drinks, and it’s really easy to get on board. Making your own vodka infusions can turn a basic bottle into a flavorful, personalized beverage to mix or enjoy on its own, and the possibilities are endless. Here are some tips help you get started:
1. Pick your ingredients
Only use fresh or dried ingredients – never canned or frozen! Seasonal fruits or vegetables are always a great place to start. You may also consider your favorite herbs and even a little bit of sugar or honey.
2. Wash it, and chop it fine
Make sure ingredients are clean, to keep dirt and chemicals out. Then, chop and pit; the smaller you cut it up, the faster the flavor will diffuse. If you are using small fruit or herbs, crush them slightly, to release the flavor better. If using citrus, make sure to separate the colored part of peel from the white (the pith), as that part is bitter.
3. Mix it up
Place your (now chopped) ingredients in an air-tight container, and fill it with vodka. If you are using fruit, you shouldn’t need too much fruit for a bottle of vodka – as fruit is full of sugar, a small handful of fruit for 500ml of spirit should do just fine – though you can obviously customize this to your own taste. With other ingredients, a sprig or small handful should also work well.
4. Wait it out
It is good to wrap your container in foil, so no sunlight can get in to affect your infusion, but it isn’t completely necessary. Store the container in a cool, dark place, and wait for about a week (but taste it occasionally, so you can judge for yourself when it is ready). Shake the container every now and then, gently, to move the ingredients about a little.
5. Strain it
Once you’ve reached the desired color and flavor, remove the ingredients and strain the liquid. If you don’t remove them the flavor will become overpowering, the liquid may become opaque, and the ingredients will fade, fall apart and become harder to strain later. Strain it with something fine – such as a coffee filter or muslin cloth – for the best results, and then decant the vodka into a clean container.
Once your vodka is ready, it is good to drink it all within a few months, although it will keep longer. Keep it out of direct sunlight (though it no longer needs to be wrapped in foil). There are lots of cocktail recipes which use vodka infusions, but often drinking them over ice or with a single mixer can be just as enjoyable.
Tips for making the most of your infusions:
- Take it slow - Don’t try something overly complicated first – begin with a classic vodka infusion, using fruit or something equally simple. Once you get into it, experimenting is the best bit – but it is easier to know when you’re getting it right with something more basic.
- Use glass bottles - Plastic will warp with time, and perhaps even leak chemicals into your beloved infusion. Use a large glass jar or bottle for the best outcome – the clearer the better, as you’ll be able to see the infusion’s progress.
- Go easy on the sugar - If you are using herbs, rather than a fruit, you may wish to add sugar, or honey, too. The kind of sugar you use will impact the color of your spirit; brown will make it murky, white will keep it clear. finer grains will dissolve more easily. Try to avoid adding sugar if you are using fruit, or something else which is naturally sugary, as it will end up tasting artificially sweet.
Let us know what you end up making!