Dish of the Day: How to… make boozy infusions
You might not be able to cut it as a master distiller but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own booze. Not from scratch obviously, that takes time, patience and a lots of skill. Infusions, though are a different matter entirely.
Citrus vodka, cucumber gin and cherry brandy are just a few of the aromatic homemade drinks you can add to your collection. They’re simple to make, give added ‘oomph’ to your cocktails and will definitely earn you bonus points in the cool department. And when we say simple, we really do mean it. All you need is a base spirit – vodka is perfect due to its neutrality; go for something like Smirnoff, Russian Standard or Absolut – good, dependable brands which you can usually pick up on special offer. Then it’s the fun part: deciding on the flavour.
Vanilla is a good one to start with. Take 3-4 vanilla pods, split them down the middle, lengthways and add to a large sterilised kilner jar. Then pour in a whole bottle of vodka (trust us, it won’t go to waste), shake and store in a cool, dry place.
How long you’ll need to leave it depends on the pods, where you’ve stored the infusion and the temperature of the room, so check every few days for colour (it should be a nice deep amber – think cognac) and taste (you want to get the rich creaminess of the vanilla before it starts to impart any bitterness) giving it a gentle shake every now and again – about a week to 10 days should do the trick.
When it’s ready, strain through a muslin cloth and decant into a sterilised bottle. Et voila! Either sip it icy cold in shot glasses or better still, try it in our favourite after-dinner recipe.
25ml homemade vanilla-infused vodka
25ml plain vodka
20ml Monin Vanilla Liqueur
10ml Monin Vanilla Syrup
Shake all ingredients thoroughly over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
The Cocktail Lovers say:
Another idea: add the peel of three large oranges or four lemons (remove the pith) to vodka for a citrus burst in cocktails, or try steeping a couple of peeled and sliced cucumbers in gin. See which seasonal fruit are on offer in your local market, immerse in your chosen spirit and give your five-a-day a whole new naughty twist.
This week we’re loving:
The Cointreau Fizz Garden in Brussels. Open every Thursday to Saturday until 21st April and serving gorgeous Cointreau cocktails in a chic secret garden, it’s the perfect place to toast in spring. Sign up on the Facebook page for more details.
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