Sunday, October 20, 2013

Infused Cocktail Fun

Since  completing a lengthy cleanse where alcohol was totally off limits, enjoying a cocktail is now a real treat. If I'm going to take the time to make one, I prefer it's special.  I don’t typically lean towards concoctions with lots of ingredients or complicated steps when mixing at home. I leave that to professional mixologists on a night out. I’ve found that the easiest way to create a spectacular drink is to always have something lovely on hand to start with… and for me, that’s infused vodka or gin that mixes simply. While I'm no longer avoiding libations, I do want to keep mine clean, which means no sugary additives, heavy juices or sodas. An infused spirit offers better flavor than mixers, with less calories and fewer steps. And when mixed with sparkling water, it doesn't get muddled or distorted.

All you need for the perfect cocktail starts with a little green

You really can infuse most any liquor. Fresh cherries were my pick in a summer post. But, my favorite way to flavor spirits is with herbs from my garden. The taste is subtle (and more genuine) than most artificially flavored varieties you’ll find at the liquor store. I like having them on hand for impromptu gatherings, too as everyone always wants a taste.

My current selection of new infusions, complete with herbs reserved
 for garnishes...and actual food recipes 


Vanilla Vodka (one long vanilla bean)
Rosemary and Lavender Vodka (one sprig rosemary, two of lavender)
Cucumber Gin (one cucumber, sliced)
Basil Vodka (one handful of basil stems/leaves)
* all of the above quantities are for one liter of chosen spirit

Most varieties are pretty much the same to make. Drop herbs (rinsed and patted dry) or vanilla into a jar or bottle with an airtight seal and add spirit. I use organic Tito’s or 360 Eco-friendly to keep it clean with vodka. For gin, it's Tanqueray’s lighter, 100% pure Rangpur, which has a hint of lime. Let the mixture steep in a cool dark place for 3-5 days, strain out the herbs and pour back into the bottle. It keeps just as long as any other liquor on your shelf (basically forever).  With less powerful herbs like basil, I often just leave them in for an interesting looking bottle on the bar.


 1 oz. Vanilla, Basil or Rosemary/Lavender vodka
 4-5 oz. sparkling water 
 Dash of Pomegranate Juice for Vanilla, or  St. Germain for Basil or R/L 
 Juice from ¼ of a lemon.

Stir ingredients and serve over ice or shake with ice and pour into a martini glass. Garnish with lemon rind and herb leaf/sprig. 

2 oz. Cucumber Gin
3-4 leaves of thyme torn into small pieces
8 oz. Perrier citron flavored sparkling water
Juice from 1/2 lime 

Pour ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake well and evenly divide into two martini glasses. Garnish with cucumber slices, herbs or lime twist… whatever you have. I also like this as one big cocktail in an oversized glass over ice with several cucumber rounds.

Look for another creation this week on my guest post for HighHeels to Hot Wheels and of course, follow this site. I will be posting cocktail creations using infused spirits all season!