Adventures in Infused Vodka

As some of you may already know, I am a regular contributor for the rather amazing Bourbon & Boots.  The story I wrote last month was on infused vodka, so you can imagine my surprise when I read an article in the local paper on Sunday stating the local Alcohol and Beverage Commission would be cracking down on local bars and restaurants that add flavors to alcohol if they do not have a distilling license.  Guess there is no better time to start infusing my own varieties on the regular.

When I was doing research for my article, I decided to try out a place in town that specializes in the craft. Past Perfect, a little gem off the Broadway strip, offers an alternative to the flashy neon signs and loud honky-tonks. Before I could even take a seat, the first things I noticed were the numerous jugs lining the counter behind the bar.  It was there that I learned about the process of liquor infusion. It couldn’t be simpler, and my results were pretty spectacular.

  1. As with most anything that comes out of a southern kitchen, everything is better made from scratch. Start with plain liquor – nothing already flavored.
  2. Pick a flavor – vanilla bean, citrus peels, fruit slices, hard candies, herbs, etc. Generally, the infusion works best if you use one to three pieces of fruit/veggies; one to two fistfuls of herbs; two to four fistfuls of berries; and as many peppers as you can handle.
  3. Fill your container with the flavor of choice and vodka. You can use canning jars like I did, or recycle those old liquor bottles if you want a larger batch. If you are using peppers, you might want to add a little water to keep the burn to a minimum.
  4. Let the concoction sit at room temperature for four or five days. Give it a good shake at least once a day. If using peppers, the longer you infuse the more heat the final product will bring. Taste-test it after 24 hours to ensure you do not end up with something sinfully spicy.
  5. Ta-da! You now have naturally flavored vodka, which you can use in a variety of cocktail recipes. 

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