Recipes

How to Infuse Spirits with New Flavors in Minutes

The trick to infusing gin, vodka, or bourbon with your favorite flavorings in minutes? A blender and a sous vide circulator.
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Published Oct. 16, 2020.

Steeping liquor with aromatics allows you to experiment with different flavors and expand your cocktail-making options at home—but adequate flavor transfer can take weeks. Enter: a blender and a sous vide circulator. Blending the alcohol with the flavorings (we tried lemon peel, coffee beans, and coriander seeds) speeds up the process by creating more surface area on which the alcohol can act; heating the mixture gently in a closed container with a sous vide circulator then accelerates the movement of flavor compounds into the alcohol, allowing it to become thoroughly infused in just 10 minutes.

Method

Using sous vide circulator, bring water to 160 degrees in 7-quart container. Process 5 parts (by weight) 80-proof spirit (gin, vodka, bourbon) and 1 part flavoring in blender until finely ground. Transfer mixture to glass canning jar, leaving at least 25 percent headspace in jar, and cover tightly. Place jar in water bath (liquid in jar should be totally submerged) and heat for 10 minutes. Immediately strain infused liquid through fine-mesh strainer lined with double layer of cheesecloth, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible. Transfer infused liquid to clean container and store in cool, dark place. 

Note: You can experiment with ingredients and ratios to suit your cocktail tastes, but be aware that fresh herbs or produce will not work well here, since the heat will change their flavor. In addition, don’t heat the alcohol higher than its boiling point of 170 degrees.

Our Favorite Barkeeper's Tools

Ready to turn your freshly-infused spirits into top-notch cocktails? No home bar is complete without these essentials.

THE BEST COCKTAIL SHAKER

Tovolo Stainless Steel 4-in-1 Cocktail Shaker

This squat but surprisingly roomy cobbler shaker is leakproof and easy to use: Simply twist on a strainer and snap on a domed top, which doubles as a 1- and 2-ounce jigger. 

THE BEST ICE MOLD

OXO Good Grips Covered Silicone Ice Cube Tray—Large Cubes

This model's compact hard plastic frame makes it easy to transport and store and produces ice cubes that are large, good-looking, and perfectly straight-edged. 

THE BEST JIGGER

OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cup, Clear

This small, inexpensive plastic beaker has bold, clearly marked lines and numbers that can be read from above; a single wide mouth makes it a breeze to fill, and a tiny spout ensures a clean pour every time. 

Round Out Your Spread

Pair your infused beverages with these simple appetizers for a bespoke cocktail hour.

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Once you experience the sweeter, smokier taste of home-roasted bell peppers—not to mention how quick and easy they are to make—you’ll never go back to the jarred kind.
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Airy, elegant French cheese puffs, known as gougères, deliver toasty flavor within delicately crisp shells. Bonus: Ours are a cinch to make.
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When made and served for tapas, these bite-sized Spanish meatballs are often served from a cazuela (Spanish-style baking dish) swimming in a flavorful saffron-infused sauce. Our goal was to recreate this dish for the American table.
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