It’s summer time and the living is easy. There’s nothing like picking up fresh strawberries from your local farmers market.
Then take them home to make a shortcake or a fantastic summer cocktail.
It’s how we started. Working in our kitchens, making liqueurs with locally available ingredients. Fresh fruit and herbs. Cucumbers, blueberries, cherries, strawberries, basil, basically anything you can grow.
It’s so much fun!
We want to inspire you to try and fail! Then try again to make cocktails with ingredients you might find in your garden or in your backyard.
Infusions are really easy.
Buy a bottle of vodka
Clean your fresh botanicals or produce
Combine them together to allow them to infuse
The question we always get asked is “When will I know they are done?”
Try it! How does it taste? How much color is left in the botanicals or produce?
Can you over-infuse? Yes you can. Herbs like mint can turn bitter if you let them infuse for too long.
We suggest starting with some simple tests to grow your knowledge. Mint is the easiest thing to learn on, because it’s cheap and plentiful and also because it does turn bitter when you infuse it for too long.
When we test new ingredients we usually have a four stage process:Do four separate infusions with four different amounts of the produce. Each one should have the exact same amount of base spirit you are using to infuse with. Do one you *think* is way too little and one you *think* is way too much. Balance the two in the middle. This gives you three areas of variability between the four signposts. A good starting point is to work with a single ingredient. Don’t try and build a six flavor extravaganza before you understand how one ingredient works.
Infuse them all for the same amount of time. Take the produce out and filter it through a coffee filter. You want to get all of the particulate out- small grains of the infusion material that will remain and continue to infuse, changing your final product.
Find the two that are closest to being what you want. You might be surprised to see that one of your tests that you expected to be too much or too little, is actually closer to just right. Then build these two infusions in four sets. This time you are going to time the infusion- I’d start with 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours and 48 hours. Mint is going to infuse quickly; citrus is going to take longer.
Try a different base spirit. Vodka and white rum are the two most common ones to work with, but you can work with any base spirit- tequila, mezcal, gin, bourbon. Pretty much anything works.
We also infuse different elements of the plant. We try things with the stems and leaves, and leaves alone. Typically the stems are more green, so it will taste brighter and more herbaceous. This can sometimes be seen as a flaw in a finished liqueur, but for home cocktailing it’s all about what you like to drink.
Take notes on all of these steps. Then narrow the field of experimentation until you have a product you are happy with. When we are doing basic experiments, we usually do 4 rounds. Then for a finished product development we dial it in beyond that. But for basic home cocktails, four rounds should get you there.
If it doesn’t work, remember the words of Dory in Finding Nemo…Just Keep Swimming!