4 Tools to Better Infuse Your Booze

The Spirit Infusion Kit

These nifty gadgets add full-on flavor to vodka, gin, whiskey and more.

Sure, you can macerate fruits, vegetables, spices or herbs in a spirit, shaking the bottle daily until the desired flavor is achieved before straining out the solids. But these products on the market make the process more fun.

Grab a bottle of booze and your best imaginative combinations of ingredients, and get steeping!

 

Alkemista infusing kit - Tools to infuse your booze

Alkemista

Still in production mode, this infuser is set to hit store shelves the end of May with a retail price of $59 (you can also pre-order it online). Think of it as the booze version of a loose-leaf tea infuser: add fruits, spices, vegetables, herbs or botanicals to the stainless steel infusion filter, fill the bottle with a spirit, allow the ingredients to steep for a few hours, days or weeks (depending on the flavor desired), remove the ingredients, reattach the bottom lid, and dispense the infused booze. Fruits take the least amount of time to impart flavor, but spices can create the most noticeable infusions, says founder and president Jason Carignan; craft bitters can take up to 30 days to fully extract the various roots’ and spices’ essences. He suggests using fresh farmer’s market produce, and whole (versus ground) spices and herbs. “Be sure to allow enough infusing time – don’t get impatient,” he suggests. “[But] don’t be afraid to get creative, and go ahead and try weird stuff like bacon-maple infused Bourbon, jalapeño tequila or lavender vodka…the only limit is your imagination!” Try it with other base ingredients including olive oil and wine – the latter can be used to craft some pretty delicious amaro, says Carignan.

 

Sempli Incanter infusing kit - Tools to infuse your booze

Sempli Incanter

Smaller than similar products, with a retail price of $65, this infuser works by placing a lightweight borosilicate glass rod filled with ingredients inside a hand-blown, lead-free crystal decanter. Small perforations in the rod allow spirits to flow through, infusing the liquor, and swirling the decanter intensifies the effect; when the desired flavor is achieved, the rod is removed. It can hold 350 ml to 450 ml of liquid, meaning that infusions are often completed faster, sometimes in a few hours. Founder and designer Danne Semeraro recommends cutting up ingredients into small pieces to allow as much surface contact as possible with the liquid infuser, and says it works with everything except dairy products. Semeraro says it makes a killer Sangria, and you can also use it to craft cold-brewed teas, flavored sparkling waters, infused olive oils, or homemade salad dressings.

 

The Spirit Infusion Kit infusing kit - Tools to infuse your booze

 

The Spirit Infusion Kit

Included in this user-friendly kit that sells for $35 on Amazon is a 1,000ml glass infusion jar, 750ml liquor bottle with wood cork top, funnel and strainer with fine mesh filter, fine mesh filter disc to remove small sediment from the finished product, chalkboard tag to label your creation, and softcover book with more than 70 recipes for infused spirits with fruits, veggies, spices, herbs, candy and more. “There are an infinite numbers of possibilities with this kit if the user is inspired to create new and unique flavors of alcohol with all-natural ingredients,” say co-owners Kyle Undesser and Richard Juskowiak. “We also want people to think more creatively and expand beyond the sugar-laden, flavored alcohols that populate the liquor store.” Infusion time varies from a day to up to three days for citrus, three to four days for fresh herbs and vanilla beans, up to a week for mildly flavored fruits like apples, berries and pears, and up to two weeks for spices like ginger and cinnamon sticks. Using higher proof spirits like Everclear extracts even the subtlest of flavors, but if it ends up tasting too strong, you can always dilute the booze with a little water. When using vodka, they recommend a mid-quality spirit like Tito’s. (If a vodka comes in a plastic bottle, stay away, they say.) Once the ingredients are removed from the infusion jar, they often can be consumed as an “adult snack,” like pomegranate seeds. The kit can also be used with gin (cucumber, lavender, basil, fennel, apple or green tea work well), rum (try infusing it with vanilla, cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg) or whiskey (add apple, cherry, plum, blackberry, vanilla or cinnamon), or even to make flavored wines. “There are no hard rules – you learn through experimentation, trial and error.”

 

Vodka Zinger infusing kit - Tools to infuse your booze

Vodka Zinger

Similar in design to the water infusers on the market (the company actually makes a similar bottle for that purpose called the Aqua Zinger), this top rack dishwasher-safe product with a retail price of $24.99 works by filling the bottom compartment with fresh ingredients (removing pits and thick rinds first) and twisting the base back and forth to grind them up to provide more surface area for infusing. After the spirit is added (the company recommends 4 to 12 ounces), the bottle is shaken, then allowed to set for an hour or longer until you get the flavor you want. For the strongest flavor, a minimum of 8 hours and a small amount of spirit are recommended. Adding a sweetener like agave or honey can offset the bitterness from some ingredients, while a pinch of salt brightens citrus. Some fun recommended combos for vodka include cherries in syrup with small chunks of lemon, pineapple and watermelon chunks, and strawberries and kiwi chunks with agave nectar. You can even use it to make flavored wine coolers like Pinot Grigio with peaches.

 

Tuscan Lunch Box cocktail recipe - Tools to infuse your booze

Tuscan Lunch Box

Recipe courtesy of Alkemista

  • 2 oz. fig-infused Amaro Lucano (See Note)
  • 1.5 oz. Coconut water or cream
  • 0.5 oz. Lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. Vanilla-cardamom syrup (See Note)
  • 2 dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
  • Rosemary sprig and orange zest, for garnish

Add all ingredients except garnishes to a cocktail shaker, add ice, and shake until chilled. Strain into a rocks glass over one large cube, and garnish with the rosemary sprig and the orange zest.

For the fig-infused Amaro Lucano:

Pour a 750ml bottle of Amaro Lucano into the Alkemista. Fill the rod with cut figs, and let infuse for several days or until desired flavor is achieved.

For the vanilla-cardamom syrup:

Combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 30 green cardamom pods, and 1 vanilla bean split in half in a medium saucepan. Let come to a boil, and then simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove it from the heat and let cool until desired flavor is reached. Strain out solids, and store in the refrigerator.

 

Celery Bay Leaf Infused Vodka

Recipe courtesy of The Spirit Infusion Kit

  • ⅔ Cup sliced celery tops, with leaves
  • 12 Dried bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. Whole peppercorns
  • 1 750ml Bottle of vodka

Place the celery, bay leaves and peppercorns in the infusing jar and fill with vodka. Seal the jar and put it in a cool place away from direct sunlight for 3 to 5 days, giving the jar a shake every day and tasting. Once the infused vodka has attained the desire flavor, strain out solids and rebottle.

 

Cilantro Lime Infused Vodka

Recipe courtesy of The Spirit Infusion Kit

  • ⅔ Cup fresh cilantro, lightly crushed
  • Zest from 2 limes
  • 1 750ml Bottle of vodka

Place the cilantro and lime zest in a clean jar and fill with vodka. Seal the jar and put in a cool place away from direct sunlight for 7 to 10 days, giving the jar a shake every day and tasting. Once the infused vodka has attained the desire flavor, strain out solids and rebottle.

 

Blueberry Breeze

Recipe courtesy of Sempli Incanter

  • 3 Lemon wedges
  • 3 Sprigs mint
  • 10 Blueberries
  • 350ml Gin

Fill the Sempli Incanter’s decanter with the gin, then add the rest of the ingredients to the infusing rod. Infuse for up to 2 weeks in a cool, dark place until desired flavor is achieved, then remove infusing rod.

 

Mango Spice

Recipe courtesy of Sempli Incanter

  • 1 Habanero
  • 4 Mango wedges, peeled
  • Small stick of cinnamon
  • 350ml Blanco tequila

Fill the Sempli Incanter’s decanter with the tequila, then add the rest of the ingredients to the infusing rod. Infuse for up to 2 weeks in a cool, dark place until desired flavor is achieved, then remove infusing rod.

 

Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. She can be reached through her website, www.kellymagyarics.com, or on Twitter an Instagram @kmagyarics.