Get you some flavor without the sugar: How to infuse vodka

Sometime last spring, I was at a distillery and was thrilled to discover they had cilantro vodka. I know cilantro isn’t for everyone (you special “tastes like soap” people), but I love it, and I keep trying to find ways to add it to my drinks. I’d never really thought much about how one makes cilantro (or any other flavor) vodka, but now that I’m all about opening the hood on this stuff to figure out how I can recreate things, I like to ask questions.

So, I asked the bartender how one makes cilantro vodka. Wait til you hear this answer: “um, you take vodka, put some fresh cilantro in it, leave it for a few days, strain the cilantro out, and then drink it” she said, giving me the “you poor stupid human” eye.

What? You gotta be fucking kidding me. Even I can do THAT.

Since then, I’ve learned that there are a lot of ways to infuse flavor into alcohols, and many involve added sugar, mostly because it makes them taste better. In fact, usually the cheap versions of things like rum and vodka involve a LOT of added sugar (I went a little crazy on a “tester” blueberry vodka one night and had the stubborn 300+ BG to prove it). But, if you’re willing to shell out a little extra (like, $25 instead of $15) you can get a ton of infused vodka flavors that have zero added sugar, really broadening your options for drinks of varying flavors.

And, of course, if you’re really feeling zealous – you can make your own.

Making cilantro-infused vodka

Making cilantro-infused vodka

It’s this fucking easy

Here’s how fucking easy this is. You will need (1) decent vodka (seriously, don’t waste your time with shitty stuff, otherwise what’s the point?), (2) whatever you plan to infuse it with, and really, sky’s the limit, and (3) a seal-able mason jar or something similar. I’ve made three infusions so far: cilantro, tea (for sweet tea vodka) and blueberry, so I could try a variety of types of ingredients.

Pour the amount of vodka you want to infuse into the mason jar, and prepare your ingredients. In general, you want about a cup of the fresh stuff (make sure you wash it first). Pour ingredients into the jar, stir, and seal the jar. Store the jar in a cool area away from direct sun or heating elements, and keep an eye on it.

Cilantro-infused vodka about 6 days later

Cilantro-infused vodka about 6 days later

The fresh stuff can be left in for up to a week or more; you’ll want to keep an eye on it and remove it when it starts to lose its color or look like it’s getting a little gross. I used 4 teabags, but only left them in for about 5 hours, because tea that steeps too long can get bitter (this is an exception to a general rule for infusions). When it’s time to remove the ingredients, unseal the jar and pour the contents over a strainer to strain out the fresh ingredients. Pour the remaining liquid into a sealable container and voila – now you have a vodka infusion.

Cilantro-infused vodka: the finished product

Cilantro-infused vodka: the finished product

Apparently this is becoming a thing: I spotted the below at World Market the other day:

Spotted at World Market

Spotted at World Market

But really, give it a try. If I can do it, you certainly can. Let me know how it goes.


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