"Infusion." It probably sounds like something that happens in a nuclear reactor if you're not already familiar with the process or the term, but I'm here to tell you, it's not that complicated. In fact, the concept of infusion - at its most basic level - is about adding and embedding flavor; and while infusion can apply to teas, water, and oils, I'll be focusing on our favorite subject here on the KW Blog: liquor, specifically my personal favorite: vodka.
The best part about the whole infusion process (and in doing it yourself) is that there's only some minor work and patience involved in creating your own, unique, flavor-full concoction to enjoy on those remaining hot, summer nights ahead.
Vodka is a very flexible liquor - not only because it "plays well with others," (it will mix with just about anything) but it is a clean, tasteless foundation for many cocktails. As such, the world of flavoring vodka is suddenly open to vast possibilities, some which seem to have been overlooked or even ignored. The deciding factors in creating your own vodka infusion are limited only by your imagination and discerning taste buds.
It's All About Flavor
Remember that "flavor" is the combination of two senses: taste and smell. So, the results of your efforts will not only taste great, but will smell really appealing, too.
The most commonly infused vodka flavors on store shelves today cover a wide variety of citrus, melon and berry, along with smatterings of chocolate and espresso flavors. While these "standard" flavors aren't necessarily bad, they're so very pedestrian. That's why I'm here: to open your minds to the possibilities beyond the single-flavor standard that vodka distillers provide to you in pre-made, artificially-sweetened form.
What You'll Need
The first, most important step is to find an un-flavored brand of vodka that suits you. "Do not pass 'Go'. Do not collect $200."
Sure, you can throw down $40 or more on a bottle of the good stuff, but if your wallet finds you less of a connoisseur – or if you're simply not that picky (or just don't care), then go for one that suits you best. Just make sure it's one you will truly, honestly enjoy because you're going to be the one to drink it when all is said and done, not me.
Here's a short list of other things you’ll need before we get underway…
- Mason Jars
- Cutting Surface/Board
- Fruit and/or Herbs
- Mesh Strainer
- Coffee Filters
- 4-6 days
Clean the mason jars and fruit thoroughly - not just for health reasons. A clean jar and clean fruit will provide you with a crisp, clean taste, allowing you to focus on the flavor you're creating, not pesticides or whatever else may be lingering on the surface of the fruit (eew), or remnants of the manufacturing process.
Cut the selected fruit(s) in half, quarters, or less and put into the mason jars… (For more exotic combinations of flavors, see the list below.) Divide the vodka among the mason jars. Again, how many jars you'll need depends on how many varying flavors you want.
The Next Step
Shake each full mason jar thoroughly and store in a cool, dark place for 4-6 days. Be sure to shake the jar multiple times a day. On or about the 3rd or 4th day, give yourself a preview of your work in progress by taking a quick sip.
How This Works
No, it's not witchcraft. The oils from the fruit (and any herbs you might use, like mint) are released into the vodka through a natural process. These oils contain the molecules that give each fruit or herb its own distinct taste and scent. Likewise, the vodka permeates and saturates the fruit already soaking in the vodka, making it a nice and potent garnish (or snack).
When It's Ready, You're Ready
On or about the 6th day, place a coffee filter into the mesh strainer. Slowly pour the contents of each distinct flavor from their respective mason jar through the coffee filter/strainer into a separate, clean container. If you're making one large batch of the same flavor, you can strain all of it back into the original bottle. You can also opt to save the fruit as garnish.
Try These in Different Combinations
In addition to the standard cherry, strawberry, lemon or lime, I'd like to suggest you give the following a taste. They'll liven your taste buds and leave you feeling cool and refreshed:
- Carambola (aka "Star Fruit")
- Honey Dew
- Banana, Strawberry, Kiwi
- Nectarine, Peach, Carambola
- Lemon, Lime, Orange, Mint
- Watermelon, Cantaloupe, Honey Dew
- Blackberry, Lychee
- Mango, Pineapple
- Peach, Plum
- Raspberry, Mint
- Orange, Lychee, Kiwi, Carambola
The possibilities are endless.