As a neutral spirit that is notable for its lack of flavor, vodka provides the perfect base for virtually limitless infusions. However, if you are over the age of 21 and have lost your taste for seemingly juvenile blends with Skittles or cotton candy, or just can’t see yourself consuming enough Bloody Mary’s to satisfy your curiosity for jalapeno or bacon infused vodka, then limiting your experimentation strictly to fruit is the way to go.
That being said, there are still a few things you should know before hitting up the produce section en route to the liquor store when pursuing your new DIY hobby.
1) First and foremost, the quality of the vodka you choose is of utmost importance. Just because vodka is billed as a neutral spirit does not mean they are all created equal. You should automatically pass on anything that comes off the bottom shelf or in a plastic bottle. Although whatever fruit you choose to add will sweeten your mixture, it will not completely disguise the chemical undertones or lessen the sting in the back of your throat received from cheaper varieties. For a nice, clean flavor, go with a higher end brand of vodka, such as the stellar line-up from the Archie Rose Distilling Company.
2) After you have chosen a fruit, the next important step is preparation. Make sure to thoroughly wash your fruit and carefully remove any pits, seeds, or stems. When infusing a full liter of vodka, it is a good guideline to go with an amount of fruit roughly equal to about two large apples’ worth. You will want to slice your fruits finely. This allows the most surface area of the fruit to be in contact with the vodka, and considerably speeds up the process. If you choose a larger fruit, such as a pineapple or mango, slice it into large chunks.
Citrus fruits are a welcome addition when flavoring your vodka; however, they require an important additional step. After removing the rind, you will need a peeler to separate the colorful part of the peel from the pith (the white part of the peel). Refusing to do otherwise can lead to unwanted bitterness in your concoction.
If you choose to add berries, generally about a full cup will be required, and you will need to bruise them slightly first by simply giving them a gentle squeeze.
3) Once everything has been prepped, find yourself a clean, airtight container. A glass jar with a tight lid will serve you well, but make sure to use as many as is necessary. Put your infusion in a safe place that isn’t exposed to direct sunlight, and give it a shake once daily. When it’s ready to serve is more a matter of personal preference than science, so after a minimum of two days, give it a sip and see if it is to your liking, though it shouldn’t take longer than a week, max.
4) When the flavour is right, find yourself a strainer and pour your newly infused vodka into a new container. If you plan on using your infusion quickly, then straining it with a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth is sufficient, but if you are planning on storing it for some time, you should take extra care to remove as much of the tiny bits of floating fruit as possible, as even they can create an inconsistent flavour over time. If this is the case, you should take the extra step of straining the vodka a second time through cheesecloth, or even just a coffee filter will do.