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Infused Vodkas

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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.

INFUSIONS:

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.

YUCK!

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.

YUM!

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.

MATERIALS:

(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

DIRECTIONS:

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!

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