Is a double vodka martini with a twist your drink of choice - but you're on a beer budget? The trick to enjoying a well-crafted cocktail at home, without spending a lot of money on top shelf vodka, is infusing.
What is infusing?
Infusing vodka is simply adding ingredients, such as fruit, spices, or herbs, directly to the vodka and letting it steep for a few days. The result is a distinct taste that will up your home bar game.
Since whatever you're infusing into the vodka will become the dominant flavour, it doesn't matter if you buy the most expensive or the cheapest vodka out there—it will all taste the same in the end (so… it makes more sense to buy the cheap vodka).
I've found the best practice is to add the ingredients to a mason jar, that way you have more room for the fruit or spices you're about to add and since it's glass it won't alter the taste of the vodka.
Leave the mason jar full of the infusing vodka at room temperature for 3-7 days. Even ingredients that usually have to go into the fridge will be fine left out since the alcohol will preserve anything perishable. After 3 days, do a taste test and decide if you want to keep it steeping for a couple more days for a stronger flavor. When infusing dried spices or herbs it usually takes a bit longer for the flavours to latch on to the vodka, so leave it to soak for at least a week. A good tip when using spices or herbs is to skip the ground variety and opt for whole seeds or leaves; using ground spices or herbs will make your vodka murky.
Here are a couple infusing combinations that hit the jackpot:
- 1 vanilla bean + 2 tablespoons of dried lavender + 750 mL vodka
- skin of 1 lime + zest of 1 lemon + 750 mL vodka
- 2 chopped jalapeños + 750 mL vodka
- 2 cups of strawberries + a handful of mint + 750 mL vodka
Infused vodka works great for speciality martinis and mixed into cocktails, or simply chill and sip.