Why infuse vodka? The reasons are many. For one thing, the flavors are far fresher and superior tasting than pre-flavored vodkas. For another, you can choose your own adventure when it comes to the flavors you add--infusing your spirits with the flavors of your choosing can spark your creativity and add a whole new world of flavor to your favorite cocktail. It’s also very easy, doesn’t require too many materials, and it’s awfully fun. Finally, it makes for not only great cockails but fantastic cocktail party banter, too!
If you’d like to give it a try, here’s what you’ll need to get going.
Regardless of what you choose to infuse, you’ll need the following:
- Vodka: Because vodka is the primary ingredient, it really has a chance to shine. A good quality vodka is warranted. The amount is up to you, but you may find that it is fun to buy a larger bottle so that you can experiment with a few different flavors.
- Airtight jars: You can buy special infusion jars, but in terms of accessibility and cost effectiveness, any airtight container will work--such as mason jars. The jars featured in the photos are wide-mouth 8 ounce sized jars.
- Filters: Paper coffee filters will do the trick quite nicely. You’ll need these to strain the flavorings from the liquid.
Now it’s time to think about what flavors you’d like to infuse into your vodka.
The sky’s the limit! You could infuse vodka with just about any flavor you’d like. Some popular choices include fruits and vegetables (apple, berries, orange, pinapple, lemons/limes) and
herbs/spices (tarragon, rosemary, pepper, lemongrass, sage, basil). But you can also have some fun with it: why not try infusing vodka with your favorite hard candy, or even chocolate covered cherries or gummi bears?
Once you’ve decided on your flavors, it’s time to get to work.
Now, to give you a heads up, the process is going to be very simple: you’ll clean and cut up (if applicable) your chosen infusions, put them in your jar, pour vodka on top, and let them steep for a while, then strain and serve. The only thing that will take a little tweaking is the timing, depending on the flavors you’re adding. In general, the stronger the flavor, the less time it needs to infuse. Of course, the ideal taste is up to you, but here’s a general guideline to give you an idea.
Very strong flavors: 1-4 hours. For instance: jalapeno peppers, very sweet candies.
Assertive flavors: 1-3 days. For instance: citrus fruits, strong spices such as basil or mint.
Medium flavors: 3 days to a week. For instance: apples, berries, more mild spices such as lavender or rosemary.
Mild flavors: Up to 2 weeks. For instance: cucumber, zucchini
Now we’re ready to get going! Since the process is quite simple, below you will discover a master recipe, and then several recipe flavor suggestions and variations which all follow the same basic method.
Master recipe: infused vodka
- Clean your jars and dry them completely.
- Wash your ingredients, if applicable, and cut into small pieces so that you can fit a nice layer of them in the jar.
- Place the ingredients in the jar, so that they fill about ⅓ of the jar.
- Pour vodka into the jar, filling nearly to the top.
- Cover with the lid, and shake several times.
- Store in a cool, dark place.
- Wash the ingredients, place them inside the jar and fill it with vodka. Shake a few times and cover tightly with a lid.
- Store in a cool, dark place. Twice a day, give the jar a shake and return it to its cool place. If it’s your first time infusing vodka, you might want to take a small taste each day to see how the flavor is progressing and when it has reached the desired flavor.
- Once the flavor is to your liking, you’ll want to strain out the flavoring ingredients. This is easy to do by pouring the contents of the jar through a coffee filter and into another (clean) jar or airtight container. Make sure all of the liquid strains through--this may take a few moments as some ingredients tend to thicken the liquid.
- Once strained, use in cocktails as desired, or store in the refrigerator.
Now, here are some recipes to try using the master recipe above!
Holy Smokes Hot Pepper Vodka
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 1 jalapeno pepper, cut into ¼-inch coins (seeds and all)
- 8 ounces vodka
Follow steps in the master recipe, using an 8 ounce jar. Let steep for 1-2 hours, or as long as it takes to have the fiery flavor you desire.
Serving suggestions: Use in a Bloody Mary, or as an ingredient in a Dirty Martini (the spiciness works very well with the saltiness!).
Sour Gummi Bear Infused Vodka
- 1 handful (about ⅓ cup) sour gummi bears
- 8 ounces vodka
Follow the steps in the master recipe, using an 8 ounce jar. Let steep for 2-3 hours, or as long as it takes to have the sweet and syrupy flavor you desire.
Serving suggestions: Because the sugary sourness of the candies really affects the flavor of the vodka, this is a good choice to serve as a shot. It’s also a sweet indulgence mixed with soda: pour 2 ounces of your infused vodka over ice into a collins-type glass. Fill the rest of the glass with lemon lime soda. Gently stir and enjoy!
Green Apple Infused Vodka
- ½ green apple, cut into small pieces
- 8 ounces vodka
Follow the steps in the master recipe, using an 8 ounce jar. Let steep for 3 days or up to a week, or as long as it takes to have a pronounced apple flavor.
Serving suggestions: Even if you’re not the Appletini type, you may find that this one is worth your time and sipping. Pour 2 ounces of your infused vodka and 1 ounce of green apple Schnapps into a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously, and strain into a glass. This makes one cocktail; easily doubled.
Cilantro Cucumber Vodka
- ⅓ large cucumber, cut into slices
- 1 small handful cilantro, cut
- 8 ounces vodka
Follow the steps in the master recipe, using an 8 ounce jar. But here’s the trick: let the cucumber steep for 4 to 5 days before adding the cilantro. Steep 1-2 more days, or until your desired taste has been reached.
Serving suggestions: Use in a Bloody Mary, or make a bright, citrusy cocktail: in a tall, collins-type glass, combine 2 ounces of your vodka with 3 lime wedges squeezed into it, and fill the rest of the glass with soda water. Stir gently and serve.
- ¼ pink grapefruit, sliced into small wedges (including the peel)
- 8 ounces vodka
Follow the steps in the master recipe, using an 8 ounce jar. Let steep for 1-2 hours, or as long as it takes to have the fiery flavor you desire.
Serving suggestions: Make a vodka-based Greyhound by mixing 2 ounces of vodka with 5 ounces of grapefruit juice; use it instead of plain vodka in a Screwdriver (vodka and orange juice) cocktail for an unexpectedly tart, bright taste.
Cheers! If you love artisanal cocktails, you’ll certainly want to raise a glass to delicious drinks made with homemade infused vodkas!