Baby, it’s cold outside. Warm up with a handcrafted cocktail made with infused spirits you’ve mastered with seasonal ingredients. Your friends will be impressed, your date will swoon, and you’ll be getting toasty with the rest of them. You can’t lose.
Infusing spirits at home is as easy as making a pot of tea — place flavors in liquid, allow to steep, and serve. Voila.
Winter usually means slim pickings at the farmers’ market, but just because you don’t have access to local strawberries and basil doesn’t mean you can’t craft a bar-worthy cocktail from scratch. Here’s the basic formula for creating a winter-infused spirit:
• Use any seasonal fruit (apples, pears, dates) or citrus and their peels (grapefruit, mandarin, orange, lemon, blood oranges), chopped into large chunks, or left whole if small fruit
• Add fresh winter herbs (mint, rosemary, thyme) or dried spices (vanilla, cinnamon, cloves)
• Steep with chosen liquor (like vodka) anywhere from a few days for strong flavors and fresh herbs or a few weeks for subtle flavors (like grapefruit or lemongrass)
This month, take advantage of two seasonal ingredients available wherever you’re living — fresh mint and clementines. Infused in vodka, the resulting spirit is an invigorating, fruity mixer perfect for winter warming cocktails.
Minty Clementine-Infused Vodka
750 ml vodka (organic, if you please!)
4 clementines, peel on, quartered
1 lemon, peel on, quartered
Handful whole cranberries
1 small handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
Combine all ingredients in a jar; seal well. Place in a cool place until flavors develop, about 3 to 4 days, shaking gently every day. Strain and store in a well-sealed container. Will keep for months.
• Makeover the screwdriver: add infused vodka to fresh citrus juice and ice.
• Make a wintry spritzer: shake infused vodka with ice; top it off with spritzer of choice.
• Make a seasonal sparkler: mix infused vodka with champagne and a splash of juice for the high life.
Image: Kitchen Wench