Vodka or “wodka” in Russian and Polish, is one of the few libations that has the ability to take on the flavors of anything you want to toss into it. That’s why infused vodkas make such fabulous cocktails for any occasion you can think of!
I personally love a Summery combo of pineapple-ginger vodka and tonic over ice with a fat slice of pineapple perched on the rim.
There are so many different uses for vodka in the kitchen too. From the obvious, to a lovely vodka-pink peppercorn cream sauce . Or even, and this is one of my big secrets, substituting plain vodka for the water when making a pie crust.
Think tender, flaky, as if you’d used heart-hardening lard, but a much healthier version.
Vodka produced in Russia and Poland is made with fermented cereal grains, molasses, soybeans, sugar beets or potatoes. The crudely processed beverage that dates back to the 14th Century had little alcohol content and was used mainly as a medicinal remedy.
Contemporary vodka production began in earnest in the mid-to-late 1700’s, producing the clear liquor in a more standardized process. Vodka is composed primarily of water and ethanol. As of the mid-1800’s vodka standards were set that required a 40% alcohol by volume (80 proof) in order to be sold commercially.
I’ve made lots of different flavored vodka cocktails through the years, always trying to outdo my previous year’s concoction. This year I’m thinking of going with a caramel-green apple combo.
I see it in a cosmopolitan that will be garnished with a caramel-dipped slice of granny smith apple. (that’s the going plan anyway)
A note here on your “add-ins”. Because your ingredients are melding as they sit, there are some basic rules to follow when prepping ingredients:
Vodka is a neutral medium that absorbs everything it touches. So, that means you need to take care to keep your proportions of “add-ins” balanced.
Infused vodkas are incredibly simple because of the limited ingredients required. But, the complex balance of flavor profiles of the final product all depend on how you put them together.
You’ll find that you can follow an exact recipe and still have subtle differences from batch to batch. The sugar content of a ripened fruit, a pepper’s heat, all these variances will result in a change to your final infused vodkas.
Say you’re combining fresh pineapple and jalapeno that you want to use for a Spicy Pineapple Upside Down Cocktail. Serve them on Christmas Eve. Then use the same infused vodka on Christmas morning in a pitcher of pre-made “tropical-style” Bloody Mary’s.
You need to take care that the pineapple is the predominant flavor component with the jalapeno lending just a “touch” of heat on the back of your tongue. It’s advisable to go with the “less-is-more” approach here. You can always add more pepper, but cannot easily dilute its fiery results.
The answer to your question is NO, the solution is not to just add more plain vodka. Once your infused vodkas have been melding flavors over several days, the addition of more vodka will throw the entire fruit/alcohol ratio off.
So start with just a “smidge” and do a taste test after 72 hours to see what level of heat your mixture has and adjust accordingly if necessary.
Same goes with other strong ingredients like fresh sliced ginger, habenero peppers, juniper berries and peppercorns. Add with caution and adjust as the infusing process progresses.
At this checking point, most recipes require a few more days of “steeping” before they’re ready. So this means you’ll still have a window of time to make adjustments at the 72 hour mark.
Keep in mind that your “end” product will be ready within 4-7 days, depending on what variety you make.
The hot pepper that isn’t quite hot enough at 72 hours, just might be after 7 days.
I always try to err on the side of having a final vodka that has more broad appeal for my guests and therefore would rather add a bit of heat to the cocktail glass if needed.
You’ll want to purchase a medium-priced vodka. You really won’t be able to appreciate the subtle differences in price points once you start adding flavorings.
Unfortunately, the same can not be said for rock-gut priced bottles. The cheap taste can’t be easily masked by even the highest quality “add-in” ingredients. Well, maybe a hot pepper combo…
You won’t be making your infused vodka recipes in the vodka bottle. Most ingredients need to be kept whole or in large pieces in order to be strained/retrieved before pouring into the final decanter or bottle.
I personally prefer to make several different kinds simultaneously (work smart, not hard!) and like to use my large spring-lock pickling jars. They will hold a full bottle and all the ingredients with room for agitating.
I don’t recommend using plastic. The idea of any aftertaste permeating my infused vodka is completely unacceptable! If you end up using your plasticware, let me know if my preconceived notion holds any water, okay?
Once your infused vodkas have steeped long enough, you’ll want to choose a nice container to serve your creation. Yes, of course you can just pour it back into the bottle you purchased it in, but that’s not very stylish, is it?
We’re entertaining with panache and style gals! It’s the little details that can really make the difference and help step up your hostess game.
There are so many attractive bottle choices out there, especially at great import stores or at my beloved Amazon.
Last year I scored a “six-pack” of spring topped bottles at Amazon that made my infused vodkas a fabulous holiday hostess gift. One afternoon’s worth of work, six hostess gifts. That’s a nice day’s work!
Now let me share some of my favorite flavored vodka cocktails for the holidays with you. They’ll help inject a little more “flavor” into your holiday entertaining.
1 ounce grenadine
4 ounces good quality pineapple juice
2 ounces pineapple/jalapeno infused vodka
pineapple ring and maraschino cherry for garnish
2 ounces vanilla infused vodka
2 ounces Kahlua or other coffee-flavored liquor
I can’t tell how wonderful the holiday season is when I keep a variety of infused vodkas on my bar cart. They really add lots of interesting cocktail choices to your list of available drinks for your guests.
In fact, as you may have realized by now, the flavor combinations for infused vodkas are endless. And you know what that means, don’t you? A never-ending selection of amazing cocktail choices await you and your guests!
Now, how would you like a copy of my ULTIMATE HOLIDAY BAR CART GUIDE PRINTABLE PDF? It’s the perfect way to get your holiday planning started!
Before the holidays arrive, it’s always wise to do an inventory of your bar supplies & spirits, especially if you’ll be entertaining.
My printable ULTIMATE HOLIDAY BAR CART GUIDE is just what you need! You’ll know exactly what you’ll have to pick up at the store with my comprehensive bar guide.
Since it’s an “ultimate” bar guide, it will have items that you may not need for a particular party, so skip them. If you don’t like beer, don’t buy any.
You get the drift, this ultimate holiday bar cart guide is chock full of fabulous suggestions, not requirements!
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