Making flavored liquors is one of the easiest and most rewarding DIYs you can prepare for the holiday season. Making your own signature cocktails is a memorable way to elevate your party or toting a bottle as a hostess gift will be sure to make you a huge hit. Some flavors can be made within a 48 hour window while infusing the liquor for up to 4 months is best if you intend to make a really intense batch that you can dilute to the optimal flavor. I like to make flavored vodka for a few reasons: one is because universally people will drink vodka vs. say whiskey, second is because vodka has no strong flavor on its own so I feel like it is the perfect vessel to just capture the flavor of whatever you are infusing.
Items you will need:
Airtight jars, clean and dried fruit /veggies / spices, stirring utensils, strainer, a pen for labeling start date.
Storage and maintenance:
You will want to store the mixture in a cool dark place while infusing. For mixtures around 1 ½ cups should be infused for a few days up to two weeks. Shake occasionally. Make sure to strain the mixture before enjoying! For a full handle of vodka I have infused it for up to 4 months before disturbing it.
Best practice is to store the vodkas at room temperature for up to one month or frozen up to two months. In my research, unless the vodka has fruit in it still or has an off-putting smell / taste you should be fine drinking it outside of this window but use your best judgment. Make sure you label the bottle with your start date so you can properly understand the age of your liquor and expiration date.
I like to use the Ikea Korken Jars (~$2.99 - $4.49) which have an airtight latching lid to make my flavored vodkas. They have a wide opening so the items that are to flavor the vodka go in and out nicely. There were sometimes when I thought I was clever adding items to the vodka bottle directly but as theh flavor the vodka they also expand sometimes making getting them back out of the jar difficult. If using fruit it will be preserved and it could be possible to enjoy the “drunken fruit” however while the fruit isn’t a problem in this scenario if you were making cinnamon vodka where the cinnamon expands, the vodka would be getting spicier and spicier as the cinnamon sits.
I personally like to use the wider Ikea jars to mix the vodka and flavoring and then I use both a mesh strainer and a funnel to either put it right back into the vodka bottle for personal use or a different bottle to gift it in. You can use a method where you make small batches of the vodka in mason jars and then gift them all-in-one. I personally like to put the mixture in a bottle with a smaller, easier to pour, bottle neck. Ikea also has a Korken bottle with stopper ($3.99) that is 34oz. that makes a wonderful vessel to gift your finished liquor in. You can make your own labels very easily on your computer to personalize it or there are great stickers that can be purchased that would work great for labels too. Make sure to look for gift tags or large stickers all over. I found some chalkboard stickers in the $1 bin at Target that would be perfect to use for labeling the different flavors at parties!
I have spoken on my personal taste on mason jars, but they are a great resource for gifting vessels for the finished vodka. Also consider taking off the original label and refilling the bottle the vodka or spirits originally came in if it is a fancy bottle. We are heavy kombucha drinkers in our household so instead of returning our bottles for cash we will be cleaning them thoroughly and repurposing them for the holiday gifts we are making this year.
I like to be a flavor purest, but mixing flavors works too! Currently I have a fennel + lemon and a grapefruit zest + coriander in the works for this holiday and the flavor profiles for them seem to be pretty amazing. Here are a few suggestions...
Cinnamon, Cranberry, Toffee, Fennel, Pommelos
Apricots, Meyer Lemons, Cherries, Strawberries
Basil, Blueberries, Chiles, Peaches
Pear, Persimmons, Pomegranate
Anytime / Bar Staples:
Lemon, Lime, Jalapeño, Habanero, Mint, Hibiscus, Coffee