Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Adventures in Vodkaland

Martha Stewart gets a surprising number of shout-outs on this blog, probably because she is my imaginary ideal of perfect partythrowing. So, imagine my delight when my sister Susan gave me a page torn from Martha Stewart Living with instructions for making all kinds of infused vodka. It was a little bit like this.

So of course I had to make some, and of course, not to be outdone by Martha, I had to come up with some of my own. Here's what I tried. All these infusions were made with Dripping Springs Vodka, because Texas is the greatest place on earth. Drink local, my friends. (Helpful note: a fifth (that's 750 ml) of vodka contains about 3 cups. So if you're feeling adventurous and you want to try some of these, a bottle will make 2 infusions. Or you can just buy a big ol' handle, like I did.) For all the infusions: combine the ingredients in an airtight jar, store in a cool, dark place, and shake occasionally while infusing. When you're done, strain everything else out and store the vodka in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Fennel + Lemon
1.5 cups vodka
2 sprigs fennel fronds
2 thin lemon slices

Infuse for 3 days.

I let this one infuse for a day longer than the instructions called for to let the flavor intensify. Still: underwhelming. Tried it on the rocks, with tonic water and a squeeze of lemon, as per Martha's recommendation. Meh. Maybe I didn't add enough fennel? Don't think I'll be making this one again. In the words of a certain former boss of mine: I'm not convinced.

Vanilla Bean + Cardamom
1.5 cups vodka
1/2 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
3 cardamom pods

Infuse for 2 days.

This is one of my own creations. One of the first things I thought after tasting it was: man, this would make a really awesome candle. Which is...not really something you want to be thinking when you're drinking. I think the transition between the sweetness of the vanilla and the woody spiciness of the cardamom is too harsh - I'm going to get some other spices up in there (like cinnamon!) and give this another try.

Celery + Bay Leaf
1.5 cups vodka
1/2 celery stalk
2 celery leaves
1 dried bay leaf

Infuse for 2 days.

Aaand...we have a winner. I know, it sounds weird - who would want to drink booze that tastes like celery? The answer is: you would. The celery is savory, but not overwhelming, and the bay leaf adds a nice little bit of spiciness to the finish. I'm eager to try this with dry sherry, like the magazine says, but I don't have any around right now. It's also practically begging to be made into a Bloody Mary, but Bloody Marys intimidate me a little. That's another post. So, since I have neither sherry nor tomatoes, but I do have (dry) vermouth, I made myself a nice little martini. I did a 4:1 ratio vodka to vermouth, but you can try whatever you like. I'm sipping it right now and it is deelicious. (Edited to add: I finshed the martini, and it's after midnight and I shouldn't make another, but I'm sniffing the glass and it smells sooo good and I'm pretty sad. It's that kind of drink.)

Next post: even more vodka infusions! I know you're on the edge of your seat.

Updated to add: be sure to check out part 2 and part 3 of my vodka-infusing experiments.


  1. I went to a bar a couple of week ago that had cucumber-infused vodka, maybe you should try that flavor?

  2. Im sad the vanilla cardamom didnt work out! it sounded like a unique combo. the celery sounds like savory deliciousness, though!

  3. I wonder if you might use some of the bulb for the fennel infusion...I don't think the fronds are going to impart much flavor...If you want to try again, I still haven't used the one brought me! :-)

  4. Ooh, good call on the cucumber. Thanks for the offer, Jess, but I think fennel and I are done. There's so many other things I want to try. I'm going to give the vanilla/cardamom another shot, with some other spices in the mix to smooth things out.