Ever wanted to create a cocktail that complements your taste preferences? With the rise of flavor-infused spirits, you now have the ability to create your own signature beverage. Customized flavored spirits are a trend that has been rapidly gaining popularity in the past years, with more people seeking to taste something unique to hoist their drinking experience.
Not only is creating a flavored spirit fun and creative, but it also allows you to control the quality of the ingredients you want to use and tailor the drink to your exact taste preferences. It allows individuals to express their creativity and showcase their unique taste preferences.
The Origin of Spirit Infusion
Following the birth of neutral liquors, just near the end of the Middle Ages or 1400 AD, apothecaries began incorporating medicinal herbs & spices, flowers, and metal into spirits as a healing liquid for patients that needs medicine, which is also called “surfeit water” during that time.
This paved the way for adopting and even developing techniques of infusing flavors and ingredients into alcohol. What started as a healing remedy became today’s inspiration for innovating and creating tasty beverages.
Guide to Spirit Infusion
Picking your Neutral Base
When choosing your alcohol base, you need to consider its flavor profile. Alcohol base that is usually clear in color because they undergo the distillation process is the best way to go. Usually, these spirits are the ones that have neutral or less flavor complexity, which makes it easier to incorporate with ingredients or flavor you want without overpowering or compromising the quality of your base. You can read more about these neutral spirits in The Art of Cocktail Making: An Essential Guide for Beginners to understand their origin and flavor characteristics better.
Vodka is a popular choice to use as a base when infusing because it tastes almost like water and is almost flavorless, which makes it easier to incorporate flavor. Other neutral or clear spirits that you are best for infusing are Gin, Tequila, Rum, Whiskey, and Brandy.
Your Flavor of Choice
Choosing the right ingredients to use in your Base is essential to ensure the taste that you desire. It’s your call how you want your base to taste after the process. But matching your base’s profile also helps in creating the best and complementing flavor outcome.
With Vodka, you can use almost anything! From fruity, to floral or even savory, like bacon or oatmeal.
Gin to maximize its flavor potential. Since it a distilled fruit-based alcohol, it will be best paired with fruits and citrus as well.
Tequila is a strong base that has some spice kick to it. Depending on what type of tequila it is, you need to get to know your tequila first before you decide what ingredients you would like to use. Using spices like ginger, chili, or even sweet spices and herbs like cinnamon and mint would be beneficial.
When using Rum, make sure to use a lighter color; it means its flavor isn’t as complex as the dark ones. The ingredients that would best pair with Rum are fruits like banana, lychee, pineapple, and apple, while the spice that may go along with it is nutmeg.
Brandy which basically is a wine aged for up to 6 years, already has an earthy and nutty note. Apricots, apples, and cherries will make it even more flavorful.
As for whiskey Bourbon and other clear amber-colored liquors, these are spirits aged in barrels for years, and there are quite a lot of complexities in these spirits. You will need to be careful with what you incorporate so as not to ruin the spirit’s quality. Delicate fruity flavors such as apple, cherry, peach, and plums are best paired with these liquors.
You can experiment with unique flavors as well and create your own signature flavored spirits. You can also try incorporating nuts, dried flowers, fruits, or even vegetables or roots. Make sure to pick the freshest and in-season ingredients that you will use for a guaranteed flavorful spirit.
Let’s Start Infusing!
First, grab a mason jar or any airtight wide-lid container. Make sure it’s clean and dry.
Prepare your ingredients. Wash them thoroughly and make sure to remove inedible parts and unnecessary stems. Peel them if necessary to help in ease infusing, but if you are going for a certain hue from your ingredient’s skin, you can leave it out too!
Cut them into nice pieces to fit them easily in a jar. If you are using citrus, you may only use its peels for infusing.
Follow the 1:1 ratio. Start by measuring a cup of liquor in the jar and then a cup of the flavoring component. You can use this ratio for fruits, nuts, and vegetables.
Go easy on spices and Herbs, as they may come out strong and overpowering. It’s nice to add little by little over time. You can chop or muddle your herbs just right to help in extracting the flavors faster.
Give it a little mix to evenly spread the ingredients, and then put on the lid, Make sure it is sealed properly. Store in a room-temperature place in your home.
The Waiting Game
The amount of time required to age depends on the base and the ingredients used. For fruits and citrus, a week is good enough to let it sit. You can leave it out for more than a week too if you’d prefer a stronger flavor.
If you're using herbs and spices, half a day usually is enough for a mild flavored spirit, but if you want a more distinct flavor, you can leave it for 24 to 48 hours. Just make sure you keep an eye on its taste so you’d know when to strain the herbs and spices out.
Make sure you shake the jar once in a while in between the aging period to distribute the ingredients evenly and to incorporate the flavors well.
Once you are satisfied with your infused spirit, strain the mixture to separate the solids from the spirit. Repeat it several times until the liquor is free of particles and almost clear again. Use a cheesecloth if necessary.
Pour it into a clean airtight bottle or a clean mason jar for storing, and use it as you wish! Now you have your very own homemade-infused spirit that you can grab anytime you crave to shake something up.
Here are some Spirit Infusing recipes we curated that you can try for starters:
Overall, the practice of concocting delicious and creative signature flavored spirits is a fun and creative way to learn more about the world of alcohol and come up with something unique for you and your guests. It's a way to put your own twist on classic beverages and make them your own.
Whether you are looking to wow your guests with a one-of-a-kind liquor or simply want to explore the world of mixology, creating customized spirits is indeed a rewarding experience.
So why not grab your favorite spirit, start experimenting and create your new favorite drink today?