Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Commence the Infusion

I enjoy my liquor cabinet. Over the last couple of years, we've got it stocked to the point where we have most of the basic things that a bar ought to have. It's got your basic liquors: rum, tequila, vodka, gin, whisky. It's got mixers and liqueurs. It's got club soda and tonic water. I've got my angostura bitters; I try to keep my fridge stocked with ice, mint and fresh fruit. But there's one thing that I've done a few times that gives me a certain sense of pride and that is liquor infusion.
There are a lot of infusions that you can buy in a liquor store--Bacardi Limon, Absolut Citron, and so forth, but there is a certain sense of craftsmanship, accomplishment, and frugality to doing it yourself. I have a few mason jars that I got at the supermarket that I use for this. First I get a big old handle (1.75 L) of vodka. I usually go with something middle of the road like Smirnoff or Skyy; I would hesitate to use something of a higher quality like Absolut or Grey Goose because the infusion is going to mask its purity. Why pay more for a flavor you're just going to tamper with? Heather disagrees with that point but perhaps her palate is more discerning than mine.
After the Vodka is procured, I get whatever fruit I want to work with and put it in the mason jar with the vodka. If it's berries, I just leave them whole and let them sit for a week; if it's pineapple, I cut it into chunks and let them sit for a week and a half; if it's citrus, I slice it and let it sit for four days. After it infuses, take the fruit out and it's ready to go. There are some people more daring than myself who will infuse herbs and spices and a growing number of people who enjoy bacon infused vodka. There really is nothing more American than taking something unique to another culture, like vodka, and adding bacon to it. I suppose for people who dislike the blood thinning properties of alcohol, this is a perfect way to negate it with cholesterol. I don't feel comfortable doing that particular infusion myself but if I come across it, I'll try it. I'm always looking for new blog fodder.
I suppose part of the appeal of infusion is taking something very basic like vodka--by definition a neutral spirit--and adding a personal flair. The same principle applies to any liquor but I've stuck with vodka. I've infused vodka with strawberries, lemons, and pineapple, but the one that serves us best is raspberry. Heather has enjoyed my patented raspberry/lemon cosmos on more than a few occasions. They're delicious and have the added distinction of being unique in its core spirit.
A goal of mine is to be able to brew my own beer but finances really limit that one for right now. I would also love to be able to distill my own liquor, but my landlord tells me I need some sort of permit to keep several bathtubs of alcohol in the basement. I've just about had it with this guy's excuses. I think the next step is buying one of those giant jugs with a spigot on the bottom so I can throw a party and impress people with it. For now I'll have to be satisfied with only impressing myself.

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