Vodka, and other flavorless or lightly flavored alcohols, can be easily infused with other tastes, sweet or savory. Fruits make for the most natural choice since they’re imbued with sweetness and color all on their own, but some vegetables, herbs, and candies are popular options as well. All it takes is a little patience and a few ingredients, so if you like mixing cocktails, this DIY project is one you should definitely try out for yourself!
You Will Need
Mason Jars (or other air-tight containers), a cheesecloth or strainer or some kind, and a large bowl.
1. Choosing Ingredients
The Booze: Vodka, gin, sake, and light rum are the best candidates for flavor infusion, since they don’t have a ton of flavor on their own. It’s best to choose a mid-range alcohol – one that’s too expensive might go to waste if this is your first attempt at infusion and one that’s too cheap will still burn badly going down regardless of what flavor your add to it.
The Flavors: Fruits are usually your best bet, particularly for a first try. You could try a combination of berries, rhubarbs and strawberries, apples and cinnamon sticks – any flavor combinations that you like and think would go well together. The fresher your ingredients are, the better flavor you’re likely to get, so pick well!
General Proportions for 1 Liter of Alcohol
These are very general guidelines, and using more of any ingredient isn’t going to hurt the process. A higher fruit to vodka ratio will just give you a more potent flavor.
- If you’re using fruit about the size of an apple or orange, you’ll need about 1-2. For something smaller, like a plum or apricot, shoot for 3-4. For berries, you’ll probably want about 2 fist fulls of it. For grapefruits or melon, 1 will probably do just fine.
- For fresh herbs, you’ll be good with 1-2 fist fulls, depending on how strongly flavored the herb is. Reduce that by half for dried herbs and spices.
2. Setting Up & Prepping Your Ingredients
You will need a clean, air-tight jar for the infusion process. Mason jars work fine. In fact, if you use multiple small jars, you can test out different flavors and infusions rather than using your whole liter of vodka on one type.
- Wash your ingredients. If you’re using any kind of fruit with a rind, you can leave the rind on, but slice them into smaller pieces to expose their flesh. For herbs, you might want to crush them a little to help release their flavors. For berries, make sure they’re stem-free – and lightly bruising them with a quick squeeze doesn’t hurt either.
- Pop your ingredients into the jar
- Pour in enough vodka to cover the fruits
- Put the lid on, and give it a few shakes.
3. Infusion Time!
Store your vodka in a cool, dark place. The fridge works, as does a cellar – really, anywhere far away from direct sunlight is fine. Give it a good shake a few times a day for the full length of the infusion.
- Light flavors like pineapple, lemongrass, or ginger might take up to 2 weeks.
- Most fruits and berries will do best with about 1 week of infusion.
- Strong flavors like herbs, spices, and berries may only need half a week.
4. Time to Strain
Grab a cheesecloth, strainer, or coffee filter. Set it on top of a large bowl or pitcher. Pour your vodka and pulp mixture through the strainer. Once all the liquid has come through, you can either discard the pulpy fruits or eat them.