Flavor-Infused Vodkas and Cocktails

>> Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Flavor-Infused Vodkas and Cocktails

The spring, the Hungry Lovers started experimenting with flavored vodkas, which are ridiculously simple. You add some fruits, vegetables, herbs, or spices to a jar of vodka or another neutral-flavored spirit like white rum, and wait a few days for the flavor to develop. The result is a fresh, tasty homemade flavored vodka for punches, cocktails, and mixers.

We found that strong-tasting additions like citrus or hot peppers take only 3 or 4 days to infuse their flavor into the vodka. Mild-tasting fruits and vegetables take 7-10 days, and some herbs and spices like vanilla beans, cinnamon, or ginger root take 2 weeks. We kept the jars in the refrigerator as they steeped, shook them occasionally to mix up the flavors, and strained out the additions before we used the liquor.

So, just in time for a Labor Day weekend bash, here are a few recipes. Get started this weekend, and next week you'll have some great drinks for friends and family.

Infused Vodka Recipes

Citrus vodka: Two 14" thick lemon slices and two lime slices in 16 oz. vodka; steep for at least three days. This makes a great cocktail with sodas, a Lemon Drop, or a Citrus Splash cocktail (below).

Cucumber vodka: Add 6 to 8 1/4" slices of cucumber to 16 oz. vodka; steep for 10 days. Great in a Cucumber-Basil Mojito (below) or mix with lemonade for a refreshingly different cocktail.

Triple-Pepper Vodka: Cut one jalapeno in half and remove the seeds. Place it in a jar with 1 tsp black peppercorns and 1/4 cup sliced red bell pepper. Steep for 7 days. This makes a fabulous Bloody Mary or a Mexican Michelada (below).

Red-Hot Cinnamon Vodka: Add 1/4 cup cinnamon red-hot candies to 16 oz. vodka. Steep 4 days, then add to hot chocolate on a cold winter day.

Pear-Coriander Vodka: Slice a pear in half, and remove the seeds. Slice one half in 1/4" slices and add to 16 oz. of vodka. Stir in 2 tsp coriander seeds. Steep for 2 weeks before serving in Pear Martinis or a Lotus Blossom cocktail (below).

Vanilla Vodka:  Split two vanilla bean pods lengthwise, and add to 16 oz. vodka. Steep for one week. As long as you keep this refrigerated, you can retain the vanilla beans and keep adding new vodka to the jar as you use it - the beans will last a long time. This mixes well with cola or fruit juices.

Tangerine Vodka: Peel a tangerine and place 2 2" strips of peel and four fruit sections into 16 oz. vodka. Steep for 1 week. Try this in place of Grand Marnier or orange liqueur for a less sugary cocktail, or spoon some into a glass of champagne.

Cocktail Recipes

Citrus Splash Martini

1 1/2 oz citrus vodka
1 1/4 oz triple sec
3/4 oz lemon juice
lemon twist

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker half-full of ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass. If you'd like, coat the rim of the glass with sugar before pouring the drink. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Cucumber-Basil Mojito
4 basil leaves
1 tsp fine sugar or simple syrup
1 tbsp chopped cucumber
2 1/2 oz cucumber vodka
1 tbsp lime juice
2/3 cup soda
lime wedge for garnish

Place the basil and sugar into a tall cocktail glass and muddle the herbs with the back of a spoon until fragrant. Add the cucumber, vodka, lime juice, and soda and stir. Fill the glass with ice cubes and garnish with a lime wedge.

Mexican Michelada
Sea salt
1 cup Clamato or other clam-tomato juice, chilled
1 tbsp lime juice
1 oz. triple pepper vodka
1 tsp soy sauce
1 cup Mexican lager beer
Lime wedges

Rub the lime wedge around the rim of a beer mug or tall cocktail glass, then dip it in the sea salt. Add the Clamato, lime juice, and soy sauce to the mug and stir. Fill the mug half-full of ice cubes, then add the beer. Stir gently before serving with a lime wedge.

Lotus Blossom

1 tbsp superfine sugar or simple syrup
3 lychee fruits (canned is fine)
1 lime wedge
1 1/2 oz pear vodka
1 oz sake
Sliced pear for garnish

Place the sugar, lychee, and lime into the bottom of a shaker and muddle the ingredients. Add the pear vodka and sake, then fill halfway with ice. Shake well, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a pear slice. 


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