Learn How To Infuse Alcohol At Home With Our DIY Guide

By / Photography By Cayla Zahoran | May 23, 2013
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Infusing Alcohol At Home

Styling + Illustrations by Allie Wist

In the midst of sweet summertime, a refreshing cocktail on a warm, sunny day has never seemed more appealing. The only thing better than sipping on your favorite flavored beverage? Enjoying it with homemade liquor — infused with your choice of fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs. We, at Edible Allegheny, were thrilled to find that alcohol infusion is not only a talent belonging to professional bartenders and mixologists. In fact, infusing at home is actually a breeze — and allows for ample creativity.

Enter Sean Enright, cocktail consultant at the Strip District’s Bar Marco. “Infusing alcohol at home is a really simple process,” he says, “and it’s easy to experiment.” Here, we’ve compiled Enright’s expertise into the ultimate alcohol infusion handbook that will have you crafting signature cocktails in no time.

getting started:
Infusions require a few basic materials — most of which you may already have on hand.

you’ll need:
1-3 Mason jars (or any other sealed, air-tight container)
7-10 days
1 or more of the following: fruits, vegetables, herbs
Cheese cloth or coffee filter, for straining

step 1 — choose a liquor

For a sweeter, more subtle infusion flavor, Enright recommends opting for vodka. “It works best for infusions because it doesn’t have strong flavors,” he explains. “When you make a cocktail with vodka, the other ingredients tend to make up most of the flavor profile.” Enright’s personal favorite? Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka. “It’s the only vodka I drink,” he says.

Note: Bourbon, whiskey, gin, and tequila can be infused as well, producing drier drinks with much stronger flavor.

Mason Jars
Local Vodka
Photo 1: We picked up giant Mason jars at In The Kitchen in the Strip District.
Photo 2: Boyd & Blair Potato Vodka is brewed in Glenshaw, Pa., with locally grown potatoes!

step 2 — combine the ingredients

There are essentially no rules when it comes to choosing ingredients for an infusion — although berries, limes, oranges, olives, mint, basil, and vanilla are commonly used. When including a fruit with a peel, however, beware. “You have to take the peel off, or the oils [from the peel] will make the infusion very bitter,” Enright warns.

The winning combinations:

Lime & gin
Berries & vodka
Mint & bourbon
Pineapple, vanilla bean, & vodka
Banana peppers & tequila
Assorted olives & vodka

Remember: With infusions, a little alcohol goes a long way. Enright typically uses 2-3 Mason jars per bottle of liquor, filling each jar with different ingredients. “I split the bottle up into 3 parts for more of a variety,” he says.

step 3 — let it steep

As a general time frame, Enright suggests letting the infusion steep in a cool, dark place for anywhere from 7-10 days, give or take — constantly taste-testing to ensure that the desired flavor is produced. “I stress the importance of tasting constantly because of a bad experience I once had with banana pepper-infused tequila,” Enright shares. “Day one, it was pretty good, but by day two — it was so spicy, you couldn’t even drink it.”

Tip: If the taste of the ingredients is too strong, simply balance out the flavors by adding more alcohol.

step 4 — strain, stir, enjoy

It’s important to strain your infusion before drinking to eliminate any extraneous sediment, such as herbs, twigs, or seeds. Enright advises using cheese cloths or coffee filters for a clearer drink. Post-strain, your homemade infusion is ready to drink! As for the cocktail assembly, “Try not to use more than 3 ounces [of liquor] in a cocktail,” notes Enright. “I keep the spirit content at 2.5 ounces maximum.”

Bar Marco, 2216 Penn Ave., Strip District. 412.471.1900.  |  Boyd & Blair Potato Vodkaboydandblair.com.  |  Vanilla beans from Penzey’s Spices, 1729 Penn Ave., Strip District.  |  All other ingredients from Pennsylvania Macaroni Company, 2010-2012 Penn Ave., Strip District.

Article from Edible Allegheny at http://edibleallegheny.ediblecommunities.com/drink/learn-how-infuse-alcohol-home-our-diy-guide
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