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Infused Vodkas


Make holiday gifts for your drinking friends.This is for you fellow procrastinators. If you are like me, you think once you get through Thanksgiving that you have a fair amount of time before you are handing out the presents. This is an awesome gift you can whip this up in about 5 days. You should keep in mind you may be getting drunk dials from your friends telling you how much they “love you man” after they try it.

I have done a lot of experimenting with infusing vodkas over the years and they make great, homemade gifts that are inexpensive and dazzle the brain of your drinking pals. Who knows, you could eventually launch a career as a mixologist creating new and exciting flavor combinations (which you should share with us).

Here is the Ninja skill info:

VODKA: You don’t need to use expensive vodka when infusing.  I prefer to buy Smirnoff triple distilled as it is a good clean vodka, and you can buy it in bulk. Sometimes it is on sale around the holidays. If you use cheaper vodka than that, I have heard running it through a water pitcher that has a built in filter three times.  I haven’t tried it, but it sounded like good information to share. If you are in a hurry and want to kill two birds with one stone, a good vodka bottle that you can reuse easily is EFFEN Vodka. You can cut the rubber label off quickly and reuse to decant back into. 

GIFTING: Jars and bottles with attached rubber stoppers are great for gift-giving. You can find them at craft stores or at stores like World Market. Mason jars can be found at dollar stores, grocery stores, antique shops, even garage sales and are cost-effective. You can purchase new lids and rubber rings at grocery stores (most of the time). A quick way to finish off the look is by cutting a thin piece ribbon or kitchen string and make a small folded card on some thicker paper.   Handwrite the ingredients you used or a recipe you like to suggest.  Punch a hole through the folded card and tie around the neck of the bottle. Awesome gift giver…check!

DECANTING: With any ingredients you leave in the bottle, once the vodka level has diminished, the ingredients can mold if exposed. Then, it has to be thrown away. It is a better idea to infuse then decant into a new jar for long-term storage.   This will make the vodka last for months or even a year. Pour slow to keep the ingredients at the bottom, or use a fine strainer to pour into another container.


I will spare you the dramatic details of my failures. Some ingredients will work, others do not and require you pour it down the drain.  You should always use ORGANIC ingredients when possible. Especially with fruit and herbs. A good rule is to not use anything that won’t hold shape in water over a day. Don’t try throwing chocolate or cheese into vodka, it isn’t going to be good.


1. Cherries – sounds great but was horrid.

2. Peaches- I added two ripe peaches and there was no peach taste at all. I am convinced that the only way to get peach flavored vodka is to use artificial ingredients.

3. Just throwing in citrus. It looked pretty but the pith made it bitter…so make sure to follow the decanting directions or you will just be back to the drain.

Feel free to post comments on this post with any trials you have created that may have made this list.


1. Citrus: lemons, (Meyer or regular) oranges, tangerines, limes and grapefruit. Just make sure they are ORGANIC as you don’t want a bunch of pesticides in

Investing in a quality zester is recommended.

your drink. Seriously, don’t even bother as you would have to heat up the skins to remove all the wax on regular fruit and it is a pain in the buttocks. Always zest the lemon or it will become bitter because of the pith (the white part between the rind and the fruit).  If you use the rind, you can always leave it in the bottle.

ZESTING NOTES: Zest two-three rinds of the citrus of your choice with a potato peeler or zester and add to a large jar.   You can use a lot more if you want just a citrus blend. Choose fruits that have a smoother rind for easier zesting. Buy extra fruit if you want to avoid the pith as it is better to just use another lemon or orange instead of risking the bitterness. Make sure to avoid all the white on the fruit, especially lemons.  You can add other items like cranberries, rosemary or ginger.

2. Raspberries: Black or red work great but you will have to decant as the color is drained from the fruit and it looks like creepy white brains floating about. Lemon works well with this fruit.

3. Bloody Mary (Savory): A combo or alone – Garlic, Bell Peppers (a combo of color looks nice) Horseradish, Onions, Jalapenos and Basil (If you use basil, make it easy to remove as it looks gross after a couple of days. You can use a spice ball or mesh tea ball  If you use a wide mouth jar to infuse your vodka, you can always remove it and leave the rest in if you wanted, just keep in mind the levels of the vodka keep it from molding.

4. Cranberries: Great addition to the citrus flavors or by itself.

5. Ginger – This makes a great cocktail with seltzer water and lemonade. You can buy the crystallized ginger at places like Trader Joe’s, World Market and Whole Food’s.

6.  Some other combos are Vanilla and Cardamon, Beet and Horseradish and a great list at Martha Stewart’s web site with the number of days to infuse the vodka flavors. I haven’t tried any of these, but they all look amazing, especially the Cardamon, Anise and Chile recipe.

MMM. Vodka.


(makes 3 gift bottles or 4-6 jars depending on the size)

  • Large sealed container or containers to infuse the vodka
  • Sterilized jars or clean bottles to decant your finished vodka into
  • Ingredients you want to infuse
  • Large bottle of vodka such approx 1.5 liters


1. Add vodka to large container or divide if using multiple containers

2. Add ingredients you want to infuse

3. Let sit in a dark cool place for 4-5 days unless you are using a recipe that requires less time

4. Decant into clean bottles

5. For gifts, decorate for a nice finishing touch and include recipes of ways to use the vodkas if they are really unusual combinations
6. If for yourself, a cool way to display on your holiday table check out this additional craft at Martha Stewart on vodka ice blocks made with juice containers. If you use the napkins like she shows, don’t use cranberries as they stain like mad. I like the greenery and oranges…very beautiful.
Drink Responsibly. Do not spill this!

Chocolate Candied Bacon

Bacon is probably the most perfect food on the planet. I also believe it is a magical word. I sometimes just put the word randomly in my Facebook status updates (such as “Going to go to the store for some pants. Bacon.”) to see if I got more responses. It usually works.

I recently tried chocolate with bacon in it from a famous Chocolate maker here in Chicago. Even though all of my being wants to love it, I wasn’t  impressed. After I started complaining to others about my desire to like this concept, chocolate covered bacon started to pop up in conversations more frequently. One friend told me they even experimented with it but hadn’t figured out the right consistency. Another friend suggested skipping the chocolate and trying candied bacon. I knew there had to be some perfect combo of  both. I looked online and couldn’t find a recipe that had both chocolate and candied methods.

Let it be known I am a bacon snob. I only buy one bacon at this point in my life. Wellshire Farms.  Do not even bother trying to persuade me otherwise.  For my chocolate, I purchased some dark chocolate chips from Blommer Chocolate Company in Chicago. You want to get good quality chocolate made for candy as you don’t want the candy part to melt when you handle it. You don’t want to get anything with wax in it either(as if!). Order it online from a quality company if you don’t have access. No excuses please.

Here were the experiments:

Experiment 1. Dark chocolate covered bacon. I wanted to try three bacons to see if it made a difference. A. Thicker bacon from Jimmy Dean B. thin sliced bacon from Oscar Myer C. Wellshire Farms bacon
Experiment 2. Candied Bacon with all three bacons
Experiment 3. Chocolate covered Candied Bacon with all three types of bacon

WINNER! #3 with Wellshire bacon. ps. I was very sad when it was gone. See the bottom note for how to make the combo.

Here are the results:

Bacon: The Welshire bacon won hands down out of the three bacons. The second best was the thin bacon. The bacon was nice looking the day I made it, but after you put it in the fridge it started to look a little waxy.  The other thick bacon was too chewy. After a couple of days all of the bacon became chewy. It also looks unattractive whatever you do. We dipped half the bacon length-wise and it looked the best. If you dip the whole thing, it is too much chocolate to bacon ratio.

Chocolate covered bacon: To make the chocolate, I baked all the bacon until crispy in the oven. Not burnt, still bendy without breaking. Then cooled it and dipped in dark chocolate over a double broiler. I then moved it to a wax paper lined cookie sheet to cool and be handled easily (freezer is nice too)

Candied bacon:  For the candied bacon, I followed this recipe and instructions exactly. This looked great, tasted amazing, and looked nice a few days later. It was better than the chocolate bacon cold. It was off the charts when hot. I can see why the chef says it would be great for a BLT.  If you want to skip the chocolate part, this also a great recipe to just eat outright. My boyfriend Jay said he was at a party recently that served them rolled and stabbed with toothpicks which made it look nicer. The photo below looks like the edges are burnt, but it was not. It should be evenly colored as possible and crispy on the outside edges. Try not to eat it all before dipping it in chocolate.

For future reference here is what the ingredients are in case that site goes away:

1 pound thick center-cut bacon (Wellshire is best!!)
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup (QUALITY syrup is a must. I prefer this tasty stuff from Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. Cotton Tavern Syrup 603-569-1138)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
black pepper to taste

I baked the bacon at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, then started by basting the tops of the bacon and flipping and then repeating every 5 minutes (USE A TIMER) until it was crispy and cooked. I think we ended up working for about 40 minutes total. The bacon will stiffen once it cools so don’t overcook it!


  • Make sure you line your baking sheet with aluminum foil. This will make it much easier to clean. That candied stuff is like tar. (see the photo below after we finished cooking…let it cool over night, then just take all the foil out and throw it out.
  • Buy a cookie cooling rack and dedicate it to this as you will not be getting it clean.
  • Eat before you make this to prevent you from eating the whole batch.

WINNER Instructions.

Follow the candied bacon recipe above exactly. Watch the video, it is really easy. Allow to cool by putting it in the refrigerator for a half hour until you can pick it up without it being sticky. Heat the chocolate candy chips in a double broiler until melted. You could use a crock pot if you were using a LOT of chocolate but for a pound, don’t bother. Dip length-wise.

Allow to cool, and then watch your house for break-ins. Do NOT brag about this to your friends as they will be sad if you didn’t make them some. Share this link on your Facebook page if you make that mistake so they can make it too!

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