Start your cocktail infusions obsession immediately.
Infusion is one of those words that immediately makes me think of hip bartenders with driving caps and a well kept mustache. Cardamom infused bitters? Why yes, yes I do want that. But infusions are a fairly simple process that can easily be done at home, whether it’s with water, liquor, olive oil or vinegar.
Infused water is an easy, summer concoction that can be put together in a matter of minutes, but if you’re infusing spirits, you’ll want to leave a little more time. The best policy is to do regular taste testing, as some ingredients – like vanilla and hot peppers – can infuse well in less than a day, while others take much longer. In general, you are looking at a few days to a month. After all, the only thing you have to do is strain out the solids and pour into a clean bottle for storage. Then you can start adding to cocktails and mixing to your heart’s content.
From herbs to fruit, you can infuse with just about anything, but here are 10 ingredients that lead to a delicious infusions just about every time.
Basil can work with vodka, gin, whiskey and everything in between. A classic is of course basil infused vodka, which can be used for Bloody Marys, a basil strawberry cocktail and beyond. The herb is also good for infusing in simple syrups. Try it with blackberry and sparkling water.
Fig infused bourbon? That is pretty much the perfect match made in heaven. You can use fresh or dried figs depending on what you have on hand, and drink it on its own or use it for a twist on a bourbon and ginger.
Adding fennel to vodka will give your drinks a very Scandinavian taste. The distinct flavor of fennel offers the chance to try your hand at more savory cocktails, or just a good fennel vodka on the rocks.
Mint is a go-to classic, as it pairs well with most cocktail combinations and is a nice accent to sweet and savory flavors. Lemon and mint will add a little extra punch to your water, and infuse it into some bourbon and you have the perfect base for a late summer cocktail.
A couple of slices of cucumber in a pitcher of water immediately change the look and taste, making staying hydrated much more interesting, and cucumber in gin with a little bit of lemon is the perfect hot afternoon drink. You can even add it to tequila. Cool, refreshing and mixes well with sparkling water.
6. Lemon Verbena
Lemon verbena is an often forgotten ingredient, but if you like a good citrus flavor you should keep some on hand in your kitchen at all times. Perfect for water and cocktails alike, use it in any drink infusions where you want an additional lemon element, like a lemon verbena lemon drop.
You can never go wrong with a spicy tequila infusion, and jalapenos are the perfect match. Whether you’re making a spicy margarita or drinking it straight, it’s an easy way to ensure you serve a punchy drink.
Ginger infused rum anyone? It’s no surprise that with it’s extra kick ginger is a favorite for a good infusion. Pair it with lemongrass for a tequila infusion, or with pear in a pitcher of sparkling water.
Bottle up the taste of summer with a peach infusion. Make a peach-infused vinegar, a grilled peach-infused bourbon or a peach and mint iced tea. Perfect for putting an overflow of farmers market peaches to good use.
Rosemary works just as well for cocktails as it does for dressing up a bottle of your favorite olive oil. Just be sure to use fresh rosemary sprigs.
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Image: Andrew Hyde