infused vodka

Vodka is well known and well loved for its ability to mix with an endless number of liquids, from tomato juice and fruit punch to tonic, lime and more. But vodka’s blank palette also makes it the perfect backdrop to paint with your favorite flavors: Fruit, spices, nuts, herbs and even bacon. Yes, bacon.

Brought to America last century by the Smirnoff family, today vodka is more popular than ever. Look behind any bar in the country, you will find not only vodka but also multiple varieties of flavored vodka: Blueberry, pomegranate, citrus, cranberry, green apple, black cherry, pepper and more. But you don’t have to go to the bar or even leave your house to enjoy flavored spirits, because making your own homemade vodka infusions is easy and fun. The liquid is infused with flavors from a process called maceration, which pulls the natural taste and oils out of the fruits and plants and into your next cocktail.

Always start with high-end, organic vodka such as Rain, Ocean, Tru Organic or Purus. Less expensive, non-organic vodkas are less distilled and will contain more impurities and pesticides to muddle with the flavors you will add. You want as “neutral” of a canvas as possible. You will also need a clear glass jar that seals tightly and is well cleaned. Special infusing jars are available for purchase that have spigots for easy tasting, but any old recycled jar will do, as long as it closes tight.

Each recipe below works with 1 ½ cups of vodka. Add the ingredients to the liquid, and don’t worry too much about exact measurements. Seal the jar tightly and then let sit for two or three days in a cool, dark place. Shake periodically.

After 48 hours, taste your creation – if the flavors are strong enough for you, it’s ready to drink. If you prefer a bolder taste, shake and leave for another 24 hours. When done, strain the liquid and enjoy! Your vodka will keep for one month or up to two months in the freezer.

What flavor is your favorite?

Lime Coriander: 3 strips lime zest + 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted lightly and ground = perfect for sparkling limeade with soda.

Strawberry Mint: 5 strawberries + 1 spring fresh lime = delightful on a warm afternoon over crushed ice.

Coffee Almond: 5 coffee beans + 2 tablespoons toasted almonds = try this in hot chocolate or with ice cream.

Horseradish Pepper: 3 thin slices of fresh horseradish root, peeled + 10 black peppercorns = spicy martini time!

Bacon Garlic: 1 strip crispy bacon + 1 clove garlic, smashed = one hard-core bacon Bloody Mary.

Apple Pecan: 4 roasted pecan halves + ¼ cup dried apples = delicious in hot black tea or cider.

Cucumber Melon: ½ cucumber, peeled and sliced with seeds removed + one slice of cantaloupe, cut into chunks = a brisk and refreshing cocktail

Get creative! You can infuse vodka with practically anything, so use your imagination to explore your kitchen and enliven your next cocktail party!

image: mccun934