Infusions, or the process of soaking any combination of ingredients in a base alcohol, are a simple way to make all-natural flavored liquor – and there’s no end to the creative possibilities. You can infuse everything from fruits and vegetables to nuts and spices, making for a limitless selection of flavors to use in your next summer cocktail.
How to start: It’s important to use a good-quality liquor, said Erica, blogger of Northwest Edible Life. Vodka makes a common base due to its lack of flavor but almost any other alcohol, like gin, tequila, rum, brandy or whiskey, works well as long as it doesn’t resemble nail polish remover before the infusion. Go for a middle-ground price range.
What to infuse: Fresh fruit and berries are most popular. Bon Appetit recommends using fruits that are in season, such as raspberries, strawberries, apples or pineapple, making sure to cut out any stems or large seeds. Citrus fruits can be zested for a subtler flavor.
Dried fruit gives flavor quickly, and is good for several months after creation. You can also use whole spices like fennel and cinnamon (ground ones are almost impossible to sift out), vegetables like cucumbers or beets, herbs like mint, black or green tea bags, and even jalapenos. Make sure to wash and chop fruits and vegetables well before adding them to the booze.
Where to mix: It is possible to mix directly in the alcohol bottle, but most infusion experts recommend pouring everything into a mason jar or other large re-useable container for convenience. Jars are cheap, come in many different sizes, and are easily accessible for mixing, sealing and sampling during the process.
How to infuse: Once you have your ingredients ready to go, dump them into a spirit-filled jar, seal the lid and set in the fridge. Keep flavors mixing by shaking the jar once a day or so, and taste the mixture every few days until the desired flavor emerges. Infusions can sit anywhere from several days to several months — it’s done when you like how it tastes. To finish, strain the drink. Serve with club soda or in your next cocktail.
A sweeter take: Make the liquor a liqueur by adding a few tablespoons of sugar or brown sugar.