Does anyone else hate store bought infused vodka? I've tried just about every brand but they all wind up tasting artificial. And I mean cleaning agent mixed with KoolAid kind of artificial. In my quest to have a tropical infused vodka for the pending Costa Rica get together, I decided to experiment with making them myself.
Here's what I've learned so far in a few pioneering efforts.
First, for tropical flavor I thought pineapple and papaya. Yum, that sounds good! I ran the idea by the Indian Culinary Academy (aka, the ladies that I work with) and they suggested maybe mixing in a bit of basil, cilantro or mint. Ooooh, that sounds even better! Hmmm, with all those ingredients I have 5 factorial combinations. Better trim it down. Pineapple, papaya and cilantro. Yes, thats it!
Click, basic research on the web for technique. Zip, over to Fiesta for fruits and herbs. Bing, over to Specs for vodka. Ohh, the vodka ailse is next to the scotch ailse and I've recently become curious about scotch so I diverted. But the resident Scotch Guy decided to give me a disseration on the many merits of oak casking before sherry casking and which exactly was the best of the infinite number of regions in Scotland for scotch production. I finally termed the monologue by telling Scotch Guy that I was a scotch neophyte and that at this point in my education, all scotch tasted like someone had put out a cigar in a cup of whiskey.
But I digress.
Zoom, over to Sur La Table to pick up some glass infusion containers for the experiments. It is always surprising when there is something kitchen related that I don't already have. Funny how often I'm surprised.
Really, there isnt much to making an infusion. Cut up the fruit. Wash, dry and crush the herbs lightly, then mix them in a container with vodka. Close and set in a dark cool place for a week. Drain through a fine mesh strainer. Then again through a coffee filter. Presto, infusion!
Since the infusions matured today, lets go over the results.
[1C pineapple, 1C vodka, 1/4C loosely packed cilantro - 7 days infusion time]
Wow, great flavor! The cilantro is a little strong but I bet it will mix well with a little pineapple juice and ice. Keeper, maybe cut back a little on the cilantro.
[1C pineapple, 1C vodka - 7 days infusion time]
Sit down before trying, whoa, intensely flavored and sweet! This could be good mixed with orange or lime. Keeper.
[1C papaya, 1C vodka - 7 days infusion time]
Gross. First of all, there is something in papaya, post cutting, that has the consistency of school paste. The infusion wasnt just thick, it was clumpy. I managed to strain off a little bit of liquid. Good flavor but the consistency was gagg-o-licious. Pass.
[1C papaya, 1C vodka, 1/4C cilantro - 7 days infusion time]
Gross, for the same reason. Pass.
[1C pineapple, 1/2C papaya, 1C vodka - 7 days infusion time]
Good, but still suffers a bit from the papaya clumping syndrome. I think cutting the amount of papaya in half might make this one a keeper.
Pineapple Papaya Cilantro
[1C pineapple, 1/2C papaya, 1C vodka, 1/4C cilantro - 7 days infusion time]
Also good flavors but again it suffers from papaya clumping syndrome. I think the cilantro overpowers the softer papaya flavor in this case, so I would probably cut its amount in half.
I am trying one more - Pineapple Mint but you will have to wait with me for a week before the results can be announced.
One more thing I learned. You can, in fact, buy super cheap vodka and filter it through a Brita filter (like 7 times) to produce very nice tasting vodka on the order of Skyy or Titos. This is not without some cost, the filter, which has to be thrown out afterwards. Not to mention the time it will take. But if volume is your MO, then it might work for you!