By Jennifer McClure
The world of cocktails has evolved a lot over the years. It is a true art and takes years of practice, trial and error and consuming the different products to master the art of creating and balancing. There are so many different bitters, vermouths, liqueurs and infusions to work with and endless opportunities to learn about new products and different ways to use them. Infusions are common and can kick your cocktail up a notch if done properly. There are many effective ways to infuse liquor as long as your portions are correct.
Using a sous vide (sous vide is a French cooking technique, which translates to “under vacuum.” In this technique food is vacuum-sealed in a cooking pouch and heated up at a precise temperature in a water oven. Instead of relying on perfect timing, sous vide relies on precise temperature control) is an effective way to quickly infuse a larger amount of liquor. However, it is important to be careful not to under or overdo it. It is vital to make sure it balances the liquor well, so the flavors you are infusing balance the spirit, not drown it out. If you are not familiar with the temperature and times on the sous vide, it may take some trial and error to get the infusion right. Thankfully this tactic has been done before, and the internet is a useful tool in researching how to create what is on your mind!
One of my favorite infused liquors that I have tried was a grapefruit vodka at a bar in Florida. The bartender put two bottles of Titos vodka in a large jar with six sliced grapefruits and let it sit for six days. He then strained the vodka and used it in fruity, refreshing cocktails. He monitored the infused vodka and tried it daily until he liked what he tasted. The vodka was naturally sweetened and tart from the fresh grapefruit and had a way better flavor than any infused vodka that you can find in the stores. When you use fruits, honey or vanilla bean, you will get a more improved taste than using sugars and processed ingredients. One thing to be careful of is that the product will expire quickly as opposed to the “fake infusions” found at the liquor store.
Another favorite of mine is a gin infused with tea. Using tea can be a simpler process because you can let it steep for only forty-five minutes to an hour. Although, depending on the tea and the end goal, it can be a shorter or longer process. Be mindful of the time due to letting it sit too long; the tea can get bitter.
Infusing liquor is a great and fun way to step up a cocktail. Instead of adding many different syrups and juices, infusing the liquor will not dilute or water down the drink as much.
Jenny is a Franklin local who has been in the service industry since she was in high school. She has been a bartender at a downtown Franklin restaurant for the past few years, where she serves up drinks with a smile.