How to Infuse Vodka With Flavours

Infused vodkas are all the rage—from mango to bacon, there really doesn’t seem to be a flavor that is off-limits. So why not save some cash and try infusing your own vodka? You can brag about it at your holiday party, give it as a gift, or make an absurdly tasty cocktail. Follow these easy steps to learn how to infuse your own vodka.

Picking and preparing the ingredients

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    Choose a vodka. As the saying goes, if the base isn’t sturdy, the whole building could collapse (or something like that.) If the vodka you use doesn’t have a good flavor (*cough*plastic bottle vodka*cough*) then infusing it with some other flavor won’t work quite as well because you’re still going to get some of that chemical taste. Get a middle shelf vodka—something that is decent but not the classiest bottle out there either.[1]
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    Choose a flavor. You can be as creative or as conservative as you like—these days just about every flavor is used in vodka, from whipped cream to bacon (don’t bash it ‘til you’ve tried it.) Decide how you want your vodka to taste, and get plenty of the desired fruits, berries, peppers or herbs (or bacon). You also don’t have to limit yourself to just one ingredient. Some ideas include[2]:

    • Using just one flavor to spice up your vodka. Options you can choose from include mango, orange peel, watermelon, apple, blueberry, vanilla, cinnamon, basil, chili pepper, horseradish, or bacon.
    • Combining chili pepper, horseradish and bacon for the best bloody mary you have ever tasted.
    • Combining orange peels and cinnamon for a sitting-by-the-fire-during-a-snowstorm feel. For a more Christmas-y vibe, combine cranberries and a vanilla pod.
    • Combining mangoes, pineapple and passionfruit—you’ll feel like you’re sitting on a white sand beach drinking the most delicious cocktail you’ve ever had. See the Tips section for more ideas.
    • Get the right amount of the ingredient you will be infusing your vodka with. Vodka (as anyone who has drunk it knows) has quite a distinct taste. In order to beat out the natural flavor with the ingredient you’ve chosen, you’ll need to get the right amount of fruit, spice, etc. Use the following guidelines for infusing about one liter of vodka.
    • If infusing your vodka fruit, use one to three pieces, depending on the size of the fruit. Aim for about two large apples’ worth; one is usually enough for larger fruits (i.e. grapefruit), but you’ll need three to four for smaller fruits (apricots, plums, etc.)
    • If infusing fresh herbs, use one to three fist-fulls of the herb, depending on its potency. Use about half as much when using dried herbs or spices.
    • If infusing your vodka with berries, add at least a cup of the berries (but feel free to add more.)
    • If infusing with peppers, use as many as you want. The more you use and the longer you infuse, the spicier the end product will be.
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    Prepare the ingredients. Infusing your vodka with fruits that have dirt on them may lead to an awkward party moment during which you discover you have dirt in your teeth. To avoid this, wash all fresh ingredients thoroughly (except, of course, the dried spices.) Other preparations differ on the ingredient[3]:

    • Slice fruits finely to increase their surface area and speed up the infusion, removing any pits, seeds, or stems. If you are using larger fruit like mangoes or pineapple, cut the fruit up into large chunks.
    • When using citrus like oranges or lemons, use a peeler to separate the colorful part of the peel from the pith (the white part of the peel.) The pith is bitter and could add some unwanted bitterness to your vodka.
    • Leave berries whole, but bruise them slightly by very gently squeezing them and removing any stems.
    • Crush herbs gently, as it will help to release their flavor. If you are using vanilla beans, slice the bean from top to bottom, keeping the top intact (it should create an upside down ‘V’ shape.)
    • Create a cut down the center of any peppers you might use. However, do not make too deep of a cut as the seeds need to stay inside the pepper.
    • For bacon vodka, you are actually using the bacon fat and not the actual bacon. Cook several strips of bacon and then drain the bacon fat. For one (750ml) bottle of vodka, you need 2 tablespoons of bacon fat.[4]

Infusing the vodka

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    Place all of the ingredients together in a clean, airtight container. Glass jars with tight lids work best for infusing vodka. The amount of vodka you are infusing (a whole bottle, half a bottle, etc.) will determine how many jars you need. Generally, it is easiest to split your ingredients in half and place half in one jar and half in another. However, if you have a glass jar that can hold a whole bottle of vodka, just use that.[5]

    • The relative proportions of each ingredient, if you’re using more than one, are a matter of personal preference.
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    Infuse! Fill the container with vodka, seal it, and put it some place safe. You can place it in the refrigerator to keep it cool or you can leave it out on your counter, so long as it is not sitting in direct sunlight.
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    Wait and shake. The timing isn’t scientific but most recipes will infuse within two to five days. Generally, citrus fruits or strongly flavored ingredients will infuse more quickly, but softly flavored or fibrous ingredients (vanilla beans or fresh ginger) may need up to a week or more. Shake the jar once a day to speed up the infusion process. To ensure that your vodka has the flavor you want it to, sample it after two days have passed and then every day after that until it reaches the desired flavor.

    • Some advice will recommend two weeks or more infusion time, but this is only necessary for a large restaurant-size batch. A week is plenty of time for a liter of vodka to infuse properly.
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    Strain the vodka. Once you vodka has become infused with the desired flavor, you will want to strain the vodka into a different bottle. You can use a funnel and a mesh strainer to make the straining process easier. The easiest thing to do is to strain the vodka back into its original bottle, but you can also use cute, new bottles bought at a local glass or craft store (this is particularly great to do when giving your vodka away as a gift.)[6]

    • The reason you should strain the ingredients out of your vodka is that if you leave the ingredients in, the flavor might become too strong (no one wants to drink vodka that has been infused with chili peppers for a month.)
    • Don’t throw the ingredients away. If you used fruit to infuse your vodka, you can actually eat them. They will be packed with fruity vodka flavor (just make sure you don’t eat them before you drive.)
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    Sample and enjoy!


Infusing vodka in minutes

This quick method will also work for infusing olive oil.

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