Monday, September 14, 2009

Methodless Mixology: Infusions (Part 1)

I've taken to infusing booze; it's a lot of fun trying to see what flavors will work well together and how much of that they will impart unto the alcohol.

A result of my experiments is that I've been able to start the makings of a nice liquor cabinet shelf; which, if you've ever been to my house, you'll know is a very difficult thing to keep - thus the booze is in my room, where it is safe.

- My first infusion was Lemon/Basil vodka which I did a year ago. I went to Isreal on Birthright (best trip ever) and on the way back on the airplane I got a bottle of Absolut (my vodka of choice) for 13 bucks! Into this bottle went the best lemon I could find at the time, a tall stalk of very fresh basil, and one teaspoon of sugar, then the bottle itself was tucked away in my closet. Two weeks later and I had a masterpiece. It came out exactly as I had hoped, the vodka had taken on a fresh, citrusy, lemony base with a more subtle but very present taste and aroma of basil. The sugar was just enough to offset any sour or bitter elements, so all that was left was smoothness.

All I can say is that this was amazing, and I can't wait to do it again.

- My second attempt at infusing was just about month ago. There was tequila on sale at Shaws and I couldn't resist. I snagged a bottle of Sauza Blanco and ran home. For this infusion I went with Orange/Hibiscus. I bought dried hibiscus flowers at the Harvest market and by this point all I had used them for was when making yerba mate. [One time I made it and it came out citrusy and bright instead of its usual earthy tea flavor, I've tried that again and again and I have yet to figure out what I did differently that time because I can't seem to recreate it.] I also bought a Valencia orange (my favorite). I sliced the rind off the orange using a ceramic peeler, trying to get as little pith as possible, and put it [the rind] in a quart swingtop mason jar along with 2 dried hibiscus flowers. I poured in the tequila, sealed it up and then it was time to wait. After swirling the jar twice a day for a week I strained the tequila into a nice bottle.

Another success. The flavors weren't as distinct as the Lemon/Basil but G-d Damn this stuff is delicious. It's almost juicy. I've gotta think of some good cockail ideas for this.

- Third infusion: Back to vodka. This time? Chili/Lime. I snagged a bottle of 365 Organic Vodka at Blanchards. It came with a deal for $10 mail in rebate so I figured why not? (still waiting on that rebate though...) For this I struggled to find a good lime. I've decided it's just not an easy thing to find in Boston; not too many lime groves in this state. Also I've decided that Israel ruined me forever for limes. While I was there and we were walking around Haifa (where I am set on living some day if only for a while) I spotted a lime tree poking through a fence on top of a wall. I climbed the wall and snagged myself a lime. I swear this was the most amazing specimen of fruit I've ever encountered. Just picking it released a cloud of intoxicating smell. A dark, rich emerald rind encased the plump ripe citrus. The rind was thicker than normal, closer to that of a lemon. What I would have given to have had a lime half as good as that one. But, I worked with what I could get. Once again sliced off the rind, toasted two chilis and threw them in my mason jar with the vodka. Around a week later I poured it back in the 365 bottle (which conveniently is a swing top so I can use it over and over).

I have to admit I was a bit afraid to try this one. I wasn't sure what to expect. I took a shot. Spicy and rough! The vodka itself could have been run trough a britta once or twice. But the spicy and lime flavors were good. I made a vodka tonic and it was awesome. It's just slightly more limey that normal and you get just a hint of spice on the back of your throat as you drink.

So what's next?

I'd certainly like to do the Lemon/Basil again. And I may have to do something with the local ginger at the Copley Farmer's Market if they still have it. Maybe something with cocoa nibs... perhaps cardamom. It's all dependent on what booze I can get for cheap or what flavors I want to try.

Until then.

-B Out.

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