| #DIY How to infuse spirits ? |
Inspired by Tom Waits | Little Drop of Poison
Remember that amazing cocktail you had at some fancy cocktail bar…something infused with pepper… or that other one with lavender ? It was delicious, and probably hard to make right…? Wrong! Infusing spirits not only is a fairly easy task but it’s pretty cool as a way of experimenting and discovering more about your own tastes.
The idea is simple : to add a specific taste (flavor) to a liquor (base) in order to create an infused spirit. If you can make tea, you can make this. It will only take a little more time.
As a base, you can use anything, but commonly people work with lighter spirits as it’s much easier. Vodka is the joker as it goes pretty much with everything, but you can also try gin, sake or white rum. Dark spirits such as whiskey can be enhanced but must infused with the right complimentary flavor otherwise it could backfire.
Flavors can come from a variety of ingredients, from fruits to flowers passing by dried fruits, spices, nuts, vegetables, roots and herbs. You can decide to work with one exclusive flavor like cinnamon vodka or decide to try some lavander-lemon gin. You can mix and create pretty much everything but keep in mind that less is more … so to fully enjoy the experience don’t go beyond 2-3 flavors.
For this DIY we’ll go with the beginner level, so get a decent bottle of vodka or gin and let’s play!
| Process |
Choose a clean air-tight jar/bottle/recipient. You can either do a big dose or divide it into smaller batches. I would advise to try different smaller batches, it’s much more fun. Whatever your flavors is/are make sure to go organic. Alcohol is a powerful solvant, and it will take with it all the crap your non-organic ingredients might have on them, like pesticides and other evil stuff. Wash them, cut them if needed, and place them inside the recipient. Fill it with the chosen spirit, shake it and make sure to close well with a lid. We do not want air to get in.
| Preparing the Flavoring Ingredients |
Berries: wash and leave whole, I don’t mind pitting cherries for instance. Only strawberries should be sliced.
Other fruit : like peaches, pineapples, mangoes and similar – wash and cut into chunks.
Citric fruit: wash and use the zests.
Herbs : wash and use whole (including stems).
Vanilla beans : wash and cut lenghtwise.
Garlic : remove the skin and keep the cloves whole.
Spices : like cloves and cinnamon – wash and keep them whole.
Nuts : crack, blanch, skin and roast – then cut them roughly (this can be a lot of work…).
| Quantities |
Rather then giving you ultra precise quantities per gram, I’ll tell you this : use your common sens, meaning you don’t need to put 15 grapefruit zests to infuse 1 litter of gin but you cannot hope either that two little cherries will do the work for a litter of vodka. This does not mean that you should be generous for it to take less time, doing so could kill your infusion.
| Infusion Time |
The infusing time may vary according to the chosen base and flavors, the quantity of flavoring ingredients and also depends on how strong you want the infusion to be. Some might take a few hours, and others a couple of weeks. On average though we will be looking at 3-5 days. What is important is that every day during the process you make sure to shake the recipient a couple of times. Also feel free to taste along the way and see what suits your palate.
| Timing estimates |
A couple of hours : hot peppers. Careful though, peppers get infused quite quickly so make sure to taste every half an hour as it is easy to over infuse and end up pouring the whole thing into the sink.
Half a week : citruses (grapefruit, lemons, limes, oranges), herbs (dill, basil, tarragon, thyme, oregano), peppers, cucumbers (without the skin) or vanilla beans.
One week : berries (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), other fruit (mangoes, peaches, cherries), herbs (rosemary, lavender).
Two weeks : ginger, lemongrass or pineapple.
| Wrapping Up |
You think it tastes as it should? Good, it’s done! Now you need to remove the flavoring ingredients and strain the liquid. Use a fine strainer (or a paper coffee filter) and pour into a new jar (if you want to use the infusion jar, make sure to rince it well before).
You can of course sip you creating but itself or use it to fuel some powerful cocktails. Cheers!
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What did you think about this DIY? Did you do something different? Leave your comment below !