Tag Archives: Infusions

In case you were wondering

As far as I’m concerned, there’s a reason that classic cocktails remain classics.

Give me a good Manhattan any day and I’m a happy girl.

However, it should come as no surprise to any of you that I like discovering the old gems. Sometimes this gets me into trouble. I once asked a barman for something different and was given what I was told was a lost cocktail from the 1920s: The Bone—a combination of bourbon, lemon juice, and Tabasco. In theory, it should have been delicious, the bourbon taking the edge off of the acidic punch of the lemon finished with heat that rounded out each sip, keeping it balanced. In practice, it reminded me of the concoctions that my sister and I used to create when we were young for the sole purpose of seeing what would freeze. In case you were wondering, nothing with plain M&Ms ever did. I’m still not sure why.

The Bone also made me wonder how our tastes had evolved in the last century.

That’s the thing about cocktails—they’re tricky to get just right.

When it came to making my own for Friendsgiving, I wanted to go simple—first because I still hadn’t gotten over my infusion kick, and I wanted the flavors of the vodka to really shine. And, secondly, because, with a house full of guests who were getting hungrier by the minute (please refer to my inability to serve dinner before 9 pm), it had to be quick to prepare.

This one hits all the right marks, although I suspect that the vodka would be equally delicious with some apple cider and cinnamon. It’s something to try next year, anyway. So is remembering to take a photo of said cocktail.

Apple Cranberry Vodka
750 ml vodka1 cup fresh cranberries
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
Crush the cranberries and place them at the bottom of an infusion jar. Add the apples to your infusion jar. Top with vodka, and allow to infuse in a cool, dark place for at least 5-7 days. You can leave it longer, but remember to shake the jar periodically as the vodka is infusing throughout the process. Once the infusion is ready, strain the cranberries and apples out of it from it, using either cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Return the vodka to a serving container.

Friendsgiving Cocktails
1 oz apple cranberry vodka
7 oz ginger ale
Frozen Cranberries (or, ice)

In a large glass, combine vodka and ginger ale. Garnish with frozen cranberries.

Makes One


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We Interrupt The Previously Scheduled Recording…

.For this emergency broadcast.

Ok, fine, I might be getting a little melodramatic. But, now that I have your attention: my recaps from the Second Annual Indian Summer Picnic will continue shortly. Bear with me in the meantime, this one is good. And, actually, came about directly as a result of the Indian Summer Picnic.

Remember the Concord Grape Vodka Lemonades I told you about last week? Well, although I have a closet filled with more beer than I know what to do with and bottle after bottle of wine lining the floor of my closet—mind you, I’m not complaining, here. In fact, I’m plotting my next event—the whole bottle of Concord Grape Vodka went quickly. So quickly, in fact, that after an hour or so, Abbey (of pig-vented apple pie fame) was diluting it with plain-old-vodka to keep the cocktails coming.

Luckily, since Concord grapes are still in season, and I’m determined to consume as many as I can while that’s the case, I had some frozen grapes on hand. Which meant that could make more. And, since I was making a trip to the liquor store to get more cheap vodka anyway it seemed like a good idea to get a handle, in order to continue on infusion making kick.

This time, I had my sights set on Limoncello, a logical progression following the lemonade making of the day prior. Naturally, as I was zesting this batch of lemons, it occurred to me that, had I planned this better, I could have started the process the day before, when I was making the first batch of lemonade. This is really a convoluted way of saying that Limoncello calls for the lemon zest only, so you’ll need to plan accordingly. lemon Bars or lemon curd are both good options. Or, you could make another batch of Concord Grape Vodka Lemonades.Personally, I’m going for the latter.

Recipe courtesy of Giada de Laurentiss

10 lemons
750-ml or 3 cups of vodka (Cheap vodka is fine here)
3.5 cups water
2.5 cups sugar

Using a vegetable peeler, remove the peel from the lemons in long strips (reserve the lemons for another use). Using a small sharp knife, trim away the white pith from the lemon peels; discard the pith. Place the lemon peels in a 2-quart pitcher. Pour the vodka over the peels and cover with plastic wrap. Steep the lemon peels in the vodka for 4 days at room temperature.

Stir the water and sugar in a large saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Cool completely. Pour the sugar syrup over the vodka mixture. Cover and let stand at room temperature overnight. Strain the limoncello through a mesh strainer. Discard the peels. Transfer the limoncello to bottles. Seal the bottles and refrigerate until cold, at least 4 hours and up to 1 month.

Makes 7 Cups

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Only the Best

Did you know that there are ordinances in New York City governing when a building must turn on the heat?

I once called 311 about this, many years ago, when I had just moved into a new apartment. I know, it sounds like a punchline, and, yet, I’m embarrassed to admit, it’s totally true.

For the record, here’s the official law:

Heat (During the heating season, October 1 through May 31)

  • Between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., heat must register at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature falls below 55 degrees

  • Between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., heat must register at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit when the outside temperature falls below 40 degrees.

See? I supply you with recipes and lessons about New York City law.

Only the best for you, my friends. Only the best.

And, so, once again I find myself in that awkward part of the season when it’s not quite cold enough for sweaters but too warm for heat. I’ve taken to walking around my apartment in my ugly—but very, very warm—polka dot slippers. And, if it doesn’t get warmer soon, or cold enough to warrant heat within my building, I may break out my tie dye snuggie (It was a gift from a friend, I swear.)

This is a very long way of saying that I think the temperature in my apartment may, in fact, be colder than outside. Naturally, this makes me long for the blissful days of summer and early fall.

Although the weather is long gone, I’m pleased to say that, this year, I planned ahead so that I could preserve the flavors. And, while I haven’t attempted canning, yet, mostly due to a fear that I’m accident prone enough to afflict my friends with botulism, there is something that I can do:

Infuse alcohol.

I’m operating under the theory that alcohol kills most everything. Except flavor. So, now I have grand plans—Singapore Slings with sour cherry gin, Concord Grape Cocktails. There may be come limoncello in my future, too. It’s too late to get the sour cherries this year, but concord grapes are still in season. And, be honest, doesn’t Concord grape vodka seem so much more appealing that jam, or even focaccia.

Actually, on second thought, get enough grapes to make the perfect happy hour cocktail and snack.

Infused Spirits
Technique from About.com

This is more of a method than a recipe, and, as such infinitely adaptable. My biggest suggestion is to use cheaper, more mildly flavored spirits while you’re trying new flavors so that, in the event that they don’t work out, you haven’t spent a fortune.

Concord Grape Infused Vodka

750 ml vodka
1 cup fresh concord grapes

Crush the grapes and place them at the bottom of an infusion jar. Top with vodka, and allow to infuse in a cool, dark place for 5-7 days. Shake the jar periodically as the vodka is infusing. Once the infusion is ready, strain the concord grapes from it, using either cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Return the vodka to a serving container.

Sour Cherry Infused Gin

750 ml gin
1 cup fresh sour cherries

Pit the sour cherries and place them at the bottom of an infusion jar. Top with gin, and allow to infuse in a cool, dark place for 5-7 days. Shake the jar periodically as the vodka is infusing. Once the infusion is ready, strain the concord grapes from it, using either cheese cloth or a coffee filter. Return the gin to a serving container.

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