Now that we’re all drinking at home so much, you may have noticed that your bar cart is not as diverse as you initially thought it was. One of the main advantages of going out for drinks is that they have all the stuff required to make a wide variety of cocktails, and matching that level of variety is often outside the home drinker’s budget.
Infusions, however, let you mix things up without buying more bottles and, if you have a blender, you can make them in a matter of minutes. Blender infusions are both quick and extremely effective. The blades extract fresh, clean flavours and beautiful colours, and when you strain away all the solids you have a brand new infused vodka perfect for sipping or mixing into a full-on cocktail. (I rarely mix these—just chill ‘em in the freezer then sip from tiny glasses.)
I’ve made lime leaf vodka, horseradish vodka, Buddha’s hand vodka, and rhubarb vodka this way, but now is the time for you to mess around with your own creative blender infusions, inspired by what’s in your fridge. Fresh herbs or anything leafy is a good place to start, but tender stalks, pithy peels, and flavorful roots are all good candidates as well. (I’ve been dreaming of a tomato peel vodka; I think the peels would add nice subtle umami and beautiful colour.)
In terms of amounts, a cup and a half of leaves or herbs is usually plenty for a 750-milliliter bottle, but scale it down to half a cup per 250 when you’re starting out until you find what you like. One of the great things about blender infusions is that—unlike slowly steeped infusions—you can blend, taste, and add more of your flavoring agent as needed, so start with a smaller amount of ingredient and build. I learned this lesson the hard way, having violently excavated my sinuses while testing the horseradish infusion.
Other than vodka and whatever you’re infusing it with, you also might want to add a little bit of sugar or honey to round things out and smooth things over. You can add a little to take the edge off (like I did with the horseradish) or you can add a lot for flavour (like I did with the rhubarb). If you’re working with a bright green leaf, a few squeezes of lemon juice can help prevent browning.
For every infusion, the process is the same: add everything to a blender, blend until your solid ingredient is decimated, then strain through a coffee filter into bottles. These infusions are best used within a couple of days if kept in the fridge, but I’ve kept them in the freezer for a few weeks with no problems.