Home > Spirits > Homemade Infusions Parts 1 and 2

Homemade Infusions Parts 1 and 2

I’ve been tossing around the idea of infusing my own spirits for quite a while now, but it wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that I really put forth the effort to create a flavored spirit by aging spices/herbs with a liquor of choice. If I had known how easy and effortless it really was to create a flavorful and colorful spirit of my own, I would have done it much sooner.

I think all of this started because of my love for the wonderful, fragrant leaves of the herb known as cilantro. I had previously created a cocktail known as the cilantro margarita, which was a traditional margarita with fresh cilantro added to the mix which was then filtered out (the best I could with a shaker) before serving. The cocktail was not for the timid; the cilantro flavor was so powerful that it took complete control of the mixture. Still, my obsession with cilantro forced me to continue to go back to this Frankenstein concoction. When I finally decided to infuse my very first spirit the choice of what I would infuse seemed obvious. No longer would I have to try and filter out cilantro with my plastic cocktail shaker if I created a cilantro tequila. Thus my homemade infusion adventures began.

Because of a lack of better containers, my infusions thus far have been made in typical, average, every day mason jars. The first step in creating an infusion is to add what you want to be infused with the spirit. In this case, I added as much cilantro as I could fit into a mason jar. The next step is to then add the spirit. I used silver tequila, though reposada or any other type of tequila for that matter would probably work fine. My personal brand of preference is Camarena. It’s a brand that is both price efficient and 100% agave. The final step is to seal the jar (or bottle) and let set for a few days. I allowed mine to set for four days, shaking it about 2-3 times a day. The longer you leave the infusing items in the jar with the spirits, the more flavor the finished product will take on. Clear spirits like vodka, tequila and gin shouldn’t take as long as darker spirits like whiskey, brandy and rum. After four days I double filtered the spirit through cheese cloth into a pitcher and then transferred the finished product back into the mason jar. My first cocktail created with my very first infused spirit was none other than a cilantro margarita, salted rim and all.

After seeing how easy my first infusion was, I quickly turned around and began my second homemade infusion. On this occasion, I decided to use cinnamon sticks that were left over from when I made a cider during Christmas to create a cinnamon brandy.  I placed four cinnamon sticks in a mason jar and filled it three quarters of the way full of brandy, in this case I used Paul Masson basically because I was just trying to get rid of it. I then filled the other quarter of the jar with Laird’s applejack. For more info on applejack read my history of the timeless cocktail, the Jack Rose. I only allowed the cinnamon brandy to age for about three days; I felt any longer would probably lend the spirit an unbearably hot cinnamon burn. The finished product ended up being pretty light on cinnamon flavor though, so those who want an even heavier cinnamon bite will probably want to either add more cinnamon, age it longer or both. I ended up not being nearly as impressed with the finished cinnamon brandy as I was was with the finished cilantro tequila. A better brand of brandy or maybe even a cognac would have certainly improved the overall flavor, possibly adding more applejack to the ratio couldn’t have hurt either. Still, my homemade cinnamon brandy works wonderfully when added to the glorious cocktail known as the brandy alexander.

Now that I’ve gotten my homemade infusion feet wet, I’m excited to try and meld new flavors. Fruit,  vegetables and even candy are just asking to be aged in liquor. Check back here at Cocktail Corner again soon to see what kind of infusions I’ve created and what kind of crazy cocktails I’ve invented for their use.

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