At the liquor store, there are only so many ingredients to choose from. When you want to add a flavor to a cocktail that doesn’t exist as a pre-packaged product, sometimes you’re left to your own devices and need to put your DIY skills to the test. While these components can sometimes be included in the form of a syrup, an infused spirit is another way enhance the texture and flavor of a cocktail. Whether you favor using a fruit, herb, spice, or fat (i.e milk, nuts, meat fat, and so on), infusions are a way to customize your drinking experience.
They are fairly simple to make, and you can use any spirit as the base. When it comes to choosing a base spirit for the infusion, make sure it is something that you enjoy on its own. You’ll never be able to cover-up a lack of quality with other infused flavors. Another thing to keep in mind has to do with safety and making sure the infusion is potable. Alcohol is a solvent. It extracts high concentrations of the characteristics of whatever it is mixed with, which can be hazardous in some cases. For example, the pits of peaches, and other stone fruit, contain a compound called amygdalin which breaks down into hydrogen cyanide when ingested. If this ingredient were to find its way into a spirit, the consequences could be lethal. Refer to cocktailsafe.org before you go infusing away with various ingredients, and make sure to do your homework.
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With a little bit of time, patience, research, and a knack for pairing flavors, you’re on your way to creating bespoke infused spirits to add to your home bar. At first, it may entail a bit of trial and error. There are many variables to keep track of including temperature, pressure, time, ratio of spirit to infusion element, the intensity of the ingredient and whether it’s fresh or dry, the ABV of the spirit (the higher the ABV, the quicker the infusion and the more concentrated the flavors are), and so on. Keep track as you go and you’ll eventually lock-in a recipe that you’re happiest with. To get started, we have gathered three recipes worth trying at home, with classic cocktails that work excellently with the infusion.
Brown butter-infused bourbon
- 750ml bourbon
- 6 tbsp of unsalted butter
- Melt butter in saucepan on low-med heat, stirring frequently until the butter starts to brown and smell nutty. Then remove from heat and let the mixture cool before adding it to a large ziplock bag, or a rectangular container.
- Add the bourbon and give a light shake to integrate the ingredients. Let the mixture sit at room temperature for 4 hours, then place in the freezer for 24 hours to separate the fat from the alcohol.
- Strain through a fine mesh strainer and a cheesecloth as many times as it takes to remove any excess fats, then store in an old liquor bottle and keep for up to 2 weeks.
Grilled pineapple-infused Tequila
- 750ml Tequila
- 1 pineapple (cored and sliced into rings)
- To grill the pineapple: heat up your grill to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and add the sliced pineapple rings to the grill until charred on each side; then set aside for infusion. (Note: If you don’t have a grill, a stove-top griddle will also suffice.)
- Once the pineapple is grilled, cut the sliced pineapple rings into quarters, and add the tequila and pineapple to a container to infuse. Leave the mix for 2 days, then strain through a fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth and store in an old liquor bottle for up to 1 month.
- 750ml Appleton Estate 12yr
- 3 very ripe bananas
- Mash the bananas in a large container, then pour over the rum. Allow the mix infuse for 1 day in a cool, dark space, then let it rest in the refrigerator for 1 day.
- After 2 days, strain the rum through a fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth and store in an old liquor bottle for 2 weeks.
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