Step away from the flavored liquor on store shelves! Can you chop fresh fruit and vegetables? Can you open packages of herbs and spices? Can you buy alcohol? (Sorry, kids.) Then you can make your own pomegranate, jalapeño, chocolate, plum, or other crazy-flavored liquor! And mix flavors that the store-bought stuff* hasn’t seen! Your concoctions are bound to be fresher, and probably cheaper.
I almost feel silly posting a “recipe” for infused vodka because you can infuse practically anything in any amount in the liquor of your choice. And in mere days, sometimes hours! Saving the dark liquors** for the winter months, I chose vodka and bright, summer flavors for this batch. With dried flowers, and cucumbers fresh out of the garden, I whipped up two variations in small batches.
*It can probably be done with vanilla beans, cacao nibs, and some other mystery ingredients, but maybe you should stick to store-bought cake and whipped cream vodkas, if that’s your thing.
**Sorry, Ron Swanson.
I tasted store-bought cucumber vodka last summer, and let me tell you, this homemade version is 10x fresher and more delicious!
- Use 1 large cucumber for 750 ml vodka, or one standard-sized bottle. I made about half that amount here.
- Peel the cucumber and scoop out its seeds. The peel will add a bitter flavor.
- Chop up your cucumber and add it to the vodka. Let sit for 2 days to 2 weeks in a cool, dry place.
- Remove the cucumber pieces, discard, and use the flavored vodka however you wish!
I’ve been drinking the cucumber vodka with ginger ale and club soda, but it is also great in a flavorful mixed drink, like this cucumber mojito.
Makes 1 serving
10 fresh mint leaves
3 wedges lime
4 cucumber slices
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup ice cubes
1/2 oz cucumber vodka
4 oz club soda
- Muddle the mint leaves, limes, and cucumber slices with the sugar to release the juices and oils.
- Top with ice cubes.
- Add the vodka and club soda, and stir.
- Garnish with cucumber and lime slices.
Hibiscus Rose Vodka
Hibiscus, or Jamaica flowers, is one of the main flavors of Agua de Jamaica, a ruby red tea made with dried hibiscus flowers and fresh lime. Infusing vodka with hibiscus is a quick process, and the resulting liquor tastes amazing with lime. Absolut makes a similar flavor called Absolut Hibiskus & Pomegranate. If you’d like to replicate that, feel free to add some crushed pomegranate seeds and juice!
- Use 1 tablespoon dried hibiscus flowers per 1 cup vodka. I replaced some of that with dried rose buds for a floral flavor that goes nicely with the tart, delicate flavor of hibiscus.
- Add to vodka and let sit for 3-4 hours. The vodka will become bright pink within minutes. If the flowers steep for longer than a few hours, the vodka will become bitter. Remove the flowers and discard.
- Use the flavored vodka however you wish!
I made this drink to accompany the latest episode of “Pretty Little Liars.” Because I watch shows made for teenagers, whatever. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s a murder mystery that follows a group of four high school girls with a stalker called “A” who threatens to reveal their OMG huge secrets. So instead of going to an adult, they get hit by cars, date their English teachers, tell lots of lies, and open 800 plot lines that never get resolved in 5 seasons. There’s creepy dolls, high drama, and lots of gasping. It’s deliciously terrible/wonderful. Just like this hot pink drink, which is more showy than substantial, and filled with secret alcohol you’ll never taste.
Ginger Lime Hibiscus Cocktail
Makes 1 serving
8 oz ginger ale
1 1/2 oz hibiscus vodka
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 1/2 oz lime simple syrup
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
- You can shake or stir this drink. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice, or a cup of ice.
- Pour into a glass (chilled or frozen is best) and garnish with lime or orange slices, and cocktail umbrellas. The more over the top, the better.