When you live near a city like Portland that has more restaurants and bars than people per capita (okay, this may be a slight exaggeration, but still…), there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve seen about a million specialty mixed drinks, and you want to try them all. But the weather outside gets frightful, funds run low, and ghosts of hangovers past sometimes put a temporary two-drink limit on your liver.
If any or all of these plagues threaten to keep you in sober hibernation as the days shorten, I have a solution: infuse your own vodka, concoct some mixers, and host a cozy night in–whether it’s with a handful of friends, or just you and your honey.
You can infuse vodka with almost any kind of fruit and spices you can dream up. If you don’t have a recipe, don’t worry about exact measurements; use your instincts. Wikihow suggests using 1-3 pieces of fruit, depending on its size, and 1-2 handfuls of spice, depending on intensity. Add fruit/spices and vodka to a sealed container (check craft stores, or just use a recycled glass jar). Store in a cool, dark place for 10-14 days, shaking occasionally. The longer you wait, the stronger the flavor will be. Once the vodka is infused to your satisfaction, strain out the fruit, and enjoy in your homemade mixed drinks!
And now, for the hardest part: deciding which flavors to infuse and what drinks to dream up! Here are some belly-warming recipes I found:
- 2 Bartlett pears
- 2 inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced
- approximately 1/4 liter vodka
Tightly pack infusion ingredients into a clean glass jar. Pour enough vodka over the top to cover. Seal with lid. Place in a cool dark spot and allow to infuse for about 2-3 weeks. At this point, you might want to strain the vodka, and add simple syrup (sugar and water heated until sugar dissolves) if you’d like the vodka to be more like a liquer or after-dinner drink (optional). Enjoy!
- Pear/Ginger Vodka
- 1T. of pear nectar
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 piece fresh orange peel (2-by-1-inch)
- 3 cups vodka
In a small saucepan, heat cranberries, sugar, and water until the sugar dissolves, the liquid begins to turn a light-pink color, and the cranberries just begin to pop. Pour the cranberries and the liquid into a large glass jar; stir in peel and vodka. Cover, and let stand at room temperature at least 3 days or up to one month. Strain before serving.
- 1 1/2 ounces Cranberry and Orange Vodka
- 1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
- 1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1/2 ounce orange-flavored liqueur, such as Cointreau
- Ice cubes
- Orange peel, for garnish
- Cranberries, for garnish
…and a quick-infusion recipe that will really make you toasty from hotlollies.com:
- Pour 1/2 liter of good Vodka (Tequila works as well) into a glass pitcher.
- Stem a jalapeno and cut lengthwise and drop 1/2 of jalapeno into vodka.
- Let vodka sit (no need to refrigerate) for at least 6 hrs or overnight. The longer it sits the spicier your vodka. Strain vodka when ready to use…you don’t want seeds in your drink!
- Place in freezer to get it nice and cold and enjoy neat or on the rocks.
Hotlollies’ Moscow Stallion
- 2 oz Spicy Vodka
- 1 oz Ginger Syrup (mix 1 tsp fresh grated ginger with 1 cup of simple syrup but just use 1 oz for single serving)
- 2 oz of Seltzer
- 1 lime wedge
Fill a tumbler with ice, pour in vodka, ginger syrup, seltzer, squeeze in the lime, drop it in drink and stir.
Have fun! (But not too much fun…)