Summer is the perfect time to experiment with refreshing cocktails, and infusions can help add a delicious and seasonal twist to your favorite liquor. They can also make a great gift or contribution to a summer potluck picnic! Here's how to make your own infused alcohol.
Infusion is the process of steeping a plant, usually a fruit or herb, in liquid to develop new flavors in that liquid. In the case of alcohol, infusions can add smoothness, sweetness, tartness, or just an interesting kick to jazz up an average shot or cocktail. Adding an infusion to alcohol is different from adding a garnish or a syrup; the sugars of the plant being infused really meld with the liquor over time and develop complex and interesting flavors.
Infusing a spirit usually requires about a week of steeping; drop whole fruits or herbs into a mason jar or other air-tight container full of alcohol and leave in a cool spot to infuse. A jar full of colorful summer fruits also makes a beautiful centerpiece while you're waiting for the flavors to blend. You'll want the jar to be about half fruit or herbs and half alcohol in order to develop adequate flavor - you can strain the liquid later or leave bits of fruit in the alcohol.
Light spirits will make the best infusions, so use unflavored vodka, tequila, or white rum. You don't have to splurge on the most expensive alcohol because the flavors of the fruit or herbs will round out the flavor of the liquor.
Citrus is a great seasonal summer flavor to add to your favorite liquor - try this recipe for a yummy citrus-infused vodka inspired by aquavit, a traditional Swedish spirit.
Here are some other great flavors to try out in thirst-quenching cocktails this summer! If you start this weekend, you'll have infused spirits ready for Fourth of July.
Strawberry - Strawberries can add a sweet pizzazz and pretty color to tequila and will make for a delicious frozen margarita later on. It's best to use slightly unripe strawberries as they will further ripen while they're infusing inside the jar.
Mint - Mint is a classic summer herb and a common cocktail garnish. Mint-infused vodka will add freshness to any beverage and pairs well with fruit, so add some whole mint leaves to a jar of vodka and enjoy with a fruity cocktail.