Mixology has become a bit of a passion of mine. Not so much the drinking of cocktails – I just love creating them! Really. I’m sure you’ve noticed that mixology is blowing up all over. Show up in any restaurant with a liquor license and you’re going to see a menu full of fancy, creative drinks often featuring flavored vodkas. Even at the relatively small ABC stores we have in NC I am astonished at the number of flavored vodkas there are for sale, and occasionally grossed out by a few of them. Bacon? Birthday cake? No thanks! Obviously vodka can be flavored with pretty much anything. Alcohol is a solvent, so it’s great at extracting and preserving flavors. Your own palate and imagination are really the only limits. To make your own flavored vodkas all you need is:
- a good quality plain vodka – don’t go cheap here. A cheap, harsh vodka will still taste like a cheap, harsh vodka, no matter what you flavor it with. I used Absolut – clean tasting and not too pricey.
- clean, blemish-free fruits, veggies, herbs, spices, peels, etc.
- sterilized jars.
- if you have a food sealing machine, vacuum sealing the jars will dramatically speed up the steeping process.
I tried three variations. Here are the proportions I used and how I did it:
- Blueberry We have them coming out our ears, so this was a natural. I infused 2.5 cups Absolut vodka with 1.5 cups fresh (you could use frozen as well) blueberries.
- Lemon-Basil I infused 2.5 cups Absolut vodka with 1 large sprig of basil and the zest of two lemons (using a veggie peeler, remove just the yellow portion of the peel in long strips).
- Cranberry-Rosemary I know, rosemary? I had a fabulous cocktail at, of all places, Maggianos. It has Berri-Acai Absolut, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice and Cointreau and is served with a sprig of rosemary floating in it. That whiff of rosemary with each sip takes a tasty drink to sublime heights. Just had to try infusing it right into the vodka. I infused 2 cups Absolut vodka with 1.5 cups frozen cranberries (you could use fresh as well, just not dried) and 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary.
Combine ingredients in clean jars, seal tightly (preferably with a vacuum sealer) and place in a cool, dark place to infuse for a week or longer.
Here is what they looked like right after putting them together
So how did they taste? The blueberry vodka was subtly flavored and a gorgeous inky purple. We enjoyed it in a blueberry-lemonade cocktail: in a blender buzz some frozen blueberries with lemonade; strain into tall ice filled glasses; top with a shot of blueberry vodka; stir and enjoy! The cranberry-rosemary vodka was also subtly flavored, but tasty mixed with cranberry juice and served in a Manhattan glass. I wouldn’t, however, deem it “make it again” worthy. The real winner was the lemon-basil vodka – full flavored and its chartreuse color made for a gorgeous drink! It was perfect with a splash of limoncello in a Manhattan glass, or over ice in a highball glass with 7Up or lemonade. It would be great in any cocktail calling for lemon vodka. When my herb garden is up and running this summer I am definitely going to do some more tinkering with herbs and citrus peels! And flavored teas, as one of my fave drinks is an Ice Pick (you can see my recipe for that drink at the bottom of this post). Hmmm, and probably a few other things…
What are your ideas for flavor combos?