58°F
weather icon Clear

Ring in new year with inspired cocktail creations

Let’s pay homage to what remains of the holiday spirit by crafting some seasonal spirits of our own. I’m going to explore infusing vodka with fruits, vegetables and herbs.

You’ve seen flavored vodkas on liquor store shelves, but have you ever thought of making your own infused vodka? Not only is it very inexpensive, but say goodbye to artificial flavorings and colors and gain absolute control over the ingredients. You can make simple infusions or create signature blends to add superpower to cocktail hour.

It’s surprisingly easy to do. All you need is a large wide-mouth glass jar with an airtight lid (not plastic unless you’re making plastic flavored vodka), a fine mesh strainer, cheese cloth or coffee filters, and a funnel. Save empty vodka bottles to refill with your infused creations later. Of course, you’ll need vodka and ingredients to infuse, but we’ll get to that in a moment.

First, I’d like to share how to make cheap vodka taste more like top-shelf vodka. There is no sense in paying for top-shelf vodka for our purpose. The secret is filtering vodka with a charcoal-activated water filter, like a Brita or PUR brand filter pitcher. Just designate a new filter exclusively for vodka because you won’t want to use it for water after you use it for vodka.

Activate it, as per manufacturer instructions then drain the water. Proceed by pouring the vodka through the filter just as you would water. You’ll want to run it through several times. I find seven times is the charm. Will this method fool a sophisticated palate into thinking its top shelf? Nope. Will it improve the results when infused or mixed in a cocktail? Absolutely.

I feel it’s appropriate that I write about adult beverages to send off 2020 and welcome in the new year. Had I known what 2020 would be like, I would have led with this. Happy new year!

How to infuse vodka

Into a clean glass jar with a lid, place your infusion ingredients, top off with vodka and close lid. Shaking the jar daily, infuse for 12 hours to seven days. Different ingredients require different amounts of time to infuse, and then there’s adjustment to your personal taste. I have guidelines below but taste your infusion every day until you’re satisfied with your results. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it.

When you’re happy with the flavor, strain the infusion material out and decant into a clean bottle or jar. Enjoy immediately or store in a cool, dark place for as many as 12 months.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Berry vodka: Use strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries or a combination. Wash berries and roughly chop. Using 1-2 cups berries for every 3-4 cups of vodka. Infuse for three to seven days.

Citrus vodka: Use lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit or a combination. Wash and slice fruit. Fill jar about halfway with fruit and top with vodka. Infuse for three to seven days.

Alternatively, using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest in strips. Reserve fruit for another purpose. Infuse zest for one to two days. You can also add zest to other infusions for complex flavors.

Cranberry lime vodka: Combine 1 cup chopped cranberries with the zest of one lime. Infuse for one to two days. Sweeten to taste.

Herbed vodka: Combine 1-2 large sprigs of basil or another favorite herb (dill, mint, sage, tarragon etc.). Infuse for two to seven days, tasting frequently. Serve with tonic or soda or make into martinis or bloody Marys.

Bloody Mary vodka: In a large container, place 1 sliced tomato, ¼ sliced onion, 2 chopped celery stalks, ½ sliced cucumber, 1 sliced lemon, 1 sprig of fresh herb like basil or dill, 2 garlic cloves. Infuse with 750 milliliters vodka for a minimum of three days. Remove all the vegetables and strain vodka. Refrigerate until ready to use. If you like it spicy, add a sliced jalapeño in the last hour only.

If you choose to infuse some booze to use tonight, lemon zest or hot peppers (jalapeño or serrano) take mere hours to give intense flavor to vodka.

To sweeten your infusions add simple syrup. But please don’t buy it. Make it. It’s called simple syrup for a reason. In a saucepan simmer equal parts sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved.

Lifestyle expert Patti Diamond is a recipe developer and food writer of the website “Divas On A Dime – Where Frugal, Meets Fabulous!” Visit Patti at www.divasonadime.com and join the conversation on Facebook at DivasOnADimeDotCom. Email Patti at divapatti @divasonadime.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Home Matters: New year brings new projects

Home projects are never-ending and can easily become overwhelming when the to-do list starts piling up higher than the laundry bin. The best way projects should be tackled is to first consider them seasonally. Should I check my attic during the summer, when its temperature can exceed 150 degrees? Along with time of year, consider order of importance. Is it more important that I paint my bathroom or fix the leaky shower that’s been dripping for two months?

Take tastebuds on vacation with lentil dal

Are you ready for a vacation? Are you longing to visit someplace completely different? If yes, I’m with you.

Woman welcomes new year with new son

The new year started off in one of the best ways possible for a Boulder City family, with the birth of a child.

Meal planning saves money, time, sanity

In the spirit of new year, new habits, I’m going back to basics. We’re going to talk about the most important tool you have for saving money, improving health and optimizing your time: meal planning.

Injured vets get homes tailored to their needs

A nonprofit organization that provides assistance to select U.S. veterans who served in the Middle East after 9/11 is not particularly well-known in Nevada, but it’s beginning to gain a large presence. Homes For Our Troops builds mortgage-free homes for qualified veterans who have suffered severe injuries including missing limbs, varying levels of paralysis, blindness and traumatic brain injury. The homes are specially adapted for those particular 9/11 veterans, not only giving them and their families a place to live, but also enabling them to rebuild their lives.

Make holiday weekend pop with popovers

In mere hours Christmas 2020 will be a magical memory, but the celebration continues. This weekend let’s indulge in a treat that makes any day a special occasion. Popovers.

Film festival moves online

The 2021 Dam Short Film Festival will still showcase unusual, original and entertaining short films despite not being held in person for the first time in its history.

Sweeten season with two merry cookies

If you’re only going to make two cookie recipes this holiday season, may I humbly suggest these two scrumptious cookies? One is the ultimate deep rich chocolate cookie; the second is the ultimate buttery soft vanilla cookie. They are so perfectly compatible yet totally different. And the cherry on top is one uses three egg whites and the other three egg yolks. It’s like it was meant to be.

Travelers’ way station named after oxen’s sore feet

During the summer of 1849,, as groups of gold seekers, some large, some small, were heading to the California gold fields near Sutter’s Fort, it brought a lot of people into contact with the Humboldt River in what later became Nevada. Dry, dusty conditions existed all along the way. Those who came early had some knowledge, albeit not enough, of the section that emptied into where Lovelock is today, and continued into the area between Fernley and Fallon. It is but one of many stories to be found when you go in search of Nevada’s Yesteryear.