Things to Do

How To: Cocktail Infusions

Dreary weather got you down? Make your own fruity drinks right at home.

The sudden change back to this rainy, cold weather after a few days of blissful warmth would put anybody in a sour mood. Lighten up with this how-to article, taken from our magazine's archives, about how to make your own liquor infusion right at home—we've got recipes on how to create infusions from fruit-based ones to herb additions. By the time warm weather swings around again, your infusion should be ready. Read below for the full instructions.

Wander into Oya or Poste in DC’s Penn Quarter and you’ll find lots of jars stuffed with liquor and assortments of fruit. A “flavor-infused” cocktail is tastier than an off-the-shelf Absolut or Stoli flavored vodka, but at a bar on Saturday night the about-$15 cocktails can add up big.

Here’s how to do your own liquor infusion at home:
1. Get a large glass jar with an airtight lid and a bottle of your chosen spirit (vodka’s easiest). Pick your fresh fruit or herb.
2. Wash and prepare your fresh—not frozen—ingredients.
3. Fill the jar with the chosen ingredient, then add spirit until there’s just enough air at the top that you’ll be able to shake it once covered.
4. Close tightly, shake, and let sit at room temperature. Continue shaking once or twice a day.
5. Infusion time varies—fruits often take about a week—so shake and taste a small amount until you get your desired flavor.
6. Once it’s infused to your liking, strain using a cheesecloth or a coffee filter and pour into original bottle. If it’s too strong, add some more uninfused vodka.

Here are some tips to infuse a fifth of vodka (750 milliliters):

• Coconut—use two cups of unsweetened dried coconut.

• Fresh herbs—one to two bunches of thyme, basil, or oregano, roughly chopped.

• Fruit—three to four cups of fresh roughly chopped strawberries, raspberries, pineapple, peaches, or dried apricots.

• Citrus zest—12 lemons or limes, six to eight oranges, or four to six grapefruits. Remove the zest carefully. Do not cut into the white pith; it’s bitter.

• Mint—two or three sprigs, stems and all.