Keep in mind that certain fruits are seasonal so they may not be available locally and at certain times of the year. Remember to choose the freshest fruits.
Here is a list of the more common fruits used for infusions and the growing seasons along with the spirits you should use with specific fruits.
Asian Pears = YR (year round), peel/slice small, Gin or Vodka
Blueberries = YR (best Jun-Aug), bruise/infuse, Brandy, Rum, or Tequila
Blackberries = YR (best May-Oct), bruise/infuse, Brandy, Rum, or Vodka
Cranberries = YR (best Sep-Dec), bruise/infuse, Gin, Rum, or Vodka
Grapefruit = Nov-Feb, cut into rinds/infuse, Gin or Tequila
Strawberries = YR (best May-Sep), slice thinly/infuse, Gin, Rum, or Tequila
Pomegranate = Aug-Oct, cut open, remove seeds/infuse seeds, Gin, Tequila, or Vodka
Peaches = May-Sep, Puree or slices, Brandy or Whiskey,
White Peaches = Jun-Aug, Puree or slices, Brandy, Gin, or Whiskey
Key Lime - YR (best Jun-Aug), peel/infuse, Gin, Rum, Tequila, or Vodka
Meyer Lemon = Nov-May, peel/infuse, Gin, Rum, Tequila, or Vodka
Start out with blueberries, sliced strawberries, and blackberries. Layer with blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries in that order. Layer equal amounts till jar is ¾ full. Cover the fruit with plain vodka, preferably a call brand. Save bottle. Seal the bottle with a lid and store in a cool place for a week, or until the flavor and sweetness is at the level you want it. Stir the jar occasionally throughout the infusion process. When finished, strain the liquid back into the clean, dry vodka bottle by using a fine strainer. The infusion should last for a month in the fridge.
The berry-infused vodka can be served over ice, or shaken and strained into a chilled cocktail glass, or to create a variation on the classic Cosmopolitan or a Berry Martini with the addition of a fruit cordial, like Chambord and fruit juice, like cranberry.
White Peach Infused Rum
Rinse peaches thoroughly and make sure to remove any bruised or overly soft spots. Slice the peaches leaving the skin on. Place into jar until ¾ full. Cover completely with a light-bodied rum, such as Bacardi Silver, seal, and store in a cool place for 7-10 days to infuse. Stir occasionally. Strain the rum back into the clean, dry rum bottle by using a fine strainer, seal, and store in the fridge for up to a month.
The white peach infused rum can be shaken and strained into a chilled cocktail glass, or to use in a classic Mojito or classic Daiquiri.
Limoncello is a lemon-flavored cordial from Italy. In fact, it is really a homemade cordial, although it is available in stores. It is easy to make on your own, but requires some patience. It has two separate resting periods.
Pick 20 good-sized lemons with thick and smooth skins. You will be using the skin, not the juice. You can the juice for squeezing fresh lemon juice later. Rinse the lemons in warm water to get them soft and clean them with a brush. Use a vegetable peeler or Y peeler to peel off only the skin. Avoid peeling off the white pith. Place peels a clean, wide-mouth gallon jar and cover completely with two 750 ml bottles of Everclear (you can use vodka as well). Place the jar in a cool, dark place for approximately 45 days. Give the jar a shake every couple of days. After 45 days or so, filter the alcohol out with a fine strainer to remove lemon peels and return to gallon jar.
Next, you will boil 7 cups of water and then dissolve 5 cups of sugar (simple syrup), stirring. Let the syrup cool, then add to your filtered lemon alcohol, reseal the jar, and shake vigorously. Dilution and sweetening of the alcohol will occur. Place the jar in a cool, dark place again for another 45 days. When ready, transfer limoncello into a sealable bottle and store in fridge.
You can enjoy the limoncello neat (straight up, no ice), preferably in a chilled shooter glass or shot glass or keep bottle in fridge (preferred). It makes a great addition to some lovely cocktails, such as the Asian Pear (martini), Lemon Drop (martini or shooter), and lemon-based cocktails.
Any questions, please let me know. I had great success with preparing and serving a multi-fruit sangria punch for adults and kids this past weekend at a clambake party. I am available to assist you with your next party or event, just give me a shout out. Why do all the work yourself? Thank you!
Next up...vegetable infusions and then everybody's favorite post..."Cocktail Spotlight" on Friday. If you have topics that you would like to know more about or is of special interest to you, send me a note and I will either post or get you the info.