Nowadays you can’t go to your local liquor store without seeing rows of different flavored vodkas – anything from citrus to coconut, green apple to pear, root beer to watermelon. I started wondering how difficult it would be to make my own infused vodka and after just a bit of research I discovered there was nothing hard about it all. Just follow a few easy steps, and voilà, you have a custom-made spirit to enjoy. The best thing is you get to control the intensity of the flavors you select.
First, choose your vodka. Don’t break the bank here – save the Goose for your martinis. But don’t be a cheapskate, either. I read to use vodka that has been distilled at least three times. I used Rain Organics for the three infusions that I made, mainly because it was on sale and was distilled seven times. I saw a number of sites that recommended using Smirnoff vodka or something similar.
Next, select your flavors. Since I love Bloody Marys, I knew I wanted to make a pepper-infused vodka and used a combination of habañeros, Serrano peppers and garlic cloves – two of each.
I also wanted something fruity and refreshing for the summer, so bought a fresh pineapple to use in one of the jars. Finally, since blueberries are in season and usually on sale, I decided to give them a try as well.
The preparation is simple. Since this was my first try, I made small batches and used sterilized, pint-sized mason jars with tight-fitting lids. Place your ingredient(s) in the bottom of the jar, add the vodka, put on the lid and shake it well. For my blueberry infusion, after placing the berries in the jar I took a fork and lightly poked them to help release some of the flavor.
Store your vodka in a cool, dry place for 3-5 days, and try to shake it a few times each day. The longer you let the ingredients stay in the vodka, the more intense the flavors will be.
Once you reach the desired flavor, strain the vodka into a new jar. Store it as you would any other vodka.
For my pepper-infused vodka, I let the ingredients stay in the jar for two full weeks. Good call on my part, since I love my Bloody Marys on the spicy side, and this batch packed a punch!
This was a much more successful than I though it would be and I can’t wait to experiment with some new flavors. Here are a few of the delicious drinks I’ve made so far:
Blueberry Vodka Lemonade
Fill a tall glass with ice. Add 3 oz. blueberry infused vodka. Fill the rest of the glass with lemonade (I like Crystal Light or Minute Made Light.) Garnish with a fresh lemon slice and fresh blueberries. Easy to make, easy to drink!
Chill a martini glass. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add 2 oz. of pineapple-infused vodka, 2 ounces of pineapple juice, 1 oz. of orange liqueur (I used Patron Citronage, but Grand Marnier or Cointreau should work just as well) and the juice of ¼ of a lime. Shake well and strain into the martini glass. Garnish with fresh pineapple. Perfect on a hot summer’s day!
Pepper Bloody Mary
Moisten the rim of a tall glass with lime, and twirl it in Bloody Mary rimmer spice mix (available at most grocery stores.) Fill the glass with ice. Add 2 oz. of pepper-infused vodka and then fill with Clamato juice (you can also use tomato juice or V-8 if desired.) Add a couple of splashes of Worstershire sauce and stir well. Add salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste (my pepper-infused vodka had a good bite to it, so I didn’t need additional seasonings except for a dash of salt.) Garnish with a celery stalk, pepperocinis (large olives work well, too) and lime. Awesome!
Eat, drink and be merry!