Making the perfect craft cocktail doesn’t necessarily require a fully-stocked bar. Though elite cocktail creators have access to innumerable homemade ingredients, liquor brands and bar equipment, many cocktails require simple ingredients and can be made easily at home. Take your boozy beverages to the next level through the act of infusion. Infusing a bottle with a variety of fruits, vegetables or other foods can bring out a ton of flavor in your favorite liquor. Differently infused drinks can complement foods with similar flavors. For example, pastry courses online might be a good place to learn to make an apple pie that goes perfectly with an apple-infused bourbon or cinnamon-infused vodka.
How to infuse
Infusion is mainly a matter of patience. However, new methods are being devised to speed along the process. Similar to pickling, infusing alcohol relies on adding the desired flavors to your booze and allowing it to sit for an extended period of time. Find a clean jar or receptacle that has a good seal. Wash and add your flavoring ingredients and then fill with your liquor of choice. Make sure you close the lid as tight as possible and shake well. Leave the jar out of direct sunlight to avoid light pollution. Allow the mix to sit for several days and shake it every few hours when possible. Once you’ve reached the desired degree of flavor, remove the additive from the booze to prevent the strength of the flavor from continuing to increase. Then use for mixed drinks or cocktails.
Traditional infusion flavors
Specific alcohols tend to infuse well with certain flavors. Clear alcohols generally complement a wider array of flavor options. Coffee, apples, cinnamon and cardamom are all good fits for bourbon. Hot peppers such as habaneros, jalapenos and Serrano chilies can add a spicy kick to vodka perfect for Bloody Marys. Cucumbers, green peppers, watermelon or mint can also be infused with vodka to create summery cocktails. Tropical and citrus fruits infuse well with tequila.
The major benefit of infusing alcohol is that it allows you to diversify your bar at home without spending money on dozens of bottles of flavored booze. One bottle can be enough to make several different concoctions. This also allows you to create and taste an olio of beverages without the risk. Whereas a bottle of kirsch might go untouched if you didn’t like the initial sip, infusing a small volume of vodka with cherries won’t leave much to go to waste.