Homemade Cocktail Ingredients and Infusion Tips

img_4913For years I’ve been making cocktail ingredients at home. I’ve mentioned some favorite infusions and liqueurs, including roasted ginger vodka, chipotle tequila, firewater, pumpkin pie spiced rum and kumquatcello, but I have also been making sweeteners, including grenadine, flavored syrups and marmalades, and novelties like dried bing cherries reconstituted in port.  I’ve been wanting to make aromatic and potable bitters, but I haven’t gotten around to procuring the obscure ingredients.

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Most recently, I remembered an experiment from my college days, dissolving a bag of gummy peaches in cheap peach schnapps, making a sweet, peachy goo that dissolved well in other things.  A month ago, I bought 5-ounce bags of Haribo Peach Rings and Fizzy Cola and dissolved each in a cup of vodka. After a couple weeks, both batches had reached an oozy equilibrium, but I haven’t concocted any good uses for them yet.

The latest trend according to GQ is Liquid Smoke, which is simple to make, but a slow, involved process.  As far as I am concerned, liquid smoke is already a common cocktail component called mezcal.

On a final note, instructions on infusing your own spirits are easy to come by online, but here are a few tips and tricks I’ve learned from experience and haven’t seen elsewhere:

Infusion Tips:

  • Smirnoff has an incredibly clean flavor, great for infusing, and is not an expensive vodka.
  • -With tequila, only use 100% agave, even if you are infusing with something strong.  It makes a difference.
  • -If an infusion is too strong, spicy, sweet, etc., decant some and dilute that with more booze until the levels are right, and keep track of the measurements so that you can repeat.  Don’t just keep adding more booze to the original infusion.
  • -Interesting glass vessels with tops or corks can do double duty as decoration while their contents mingle.
  • -If you are experimenting with ingredients that may not infuse at the same speed and desired intensity, infuse smaller, separate batches of each and combine teaspoonfuls to get the balance right before mixing the whole batch.
  • -Dried fruit infuses better than fresh fruit.  Water is the infusion killer.
  • -When infusing with herbs, bruise leafy herbs before adding, but insert woody herbs unharmed.

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