Some examples: Ginger, chili pepper, serrano pepper, jalapeno pepper, rhubarb, cucumber, carrot, capsicum, and beet
Ginger Infused Vodka
Ginger is a common ingredient in Asian cuisine and cocktails. It is quite spicy so try not to use too much or it will be overpowering.
Cut off pieces of fresh ginger root. Remove end pieces and pieces that are rotten. Peel the ginger root with a vegetable peeler or the back of a metal spoon. With the spoon, rub over the root with the top of the spoon. I think this works better than a traditional peeler. Slice into ¼ in pieces and place about 1 ½ cups of ginger in a clean glass jar. Completely cover with 750 ml of vodka and let infuse for 36-48 hours for a spicy ginger flavor. If you prefer less spice, just infuse for 36 hours. Fine strain into a clean bottle. Be careful not to infuse for too long or it will taste very stringent like grain alcohol.
Ginger vodka matches well with citrus flavors, such as lemon juice, orange juice and limoncello. It also pairs well with grenadine and pear. I used it in my Red Ginger cocktail by combining it with grenadine and fresh lemon juice and can be used in a Ginger Cosmo.
Serrano Infused Tequila
Add 3-4 chilies to 1 liter of unaged or silver tequila. Pierce each chili with a pin or knife point before placing them in the bottle. Place a cool, dark place for 1 month shaking occasionally. When ready, taste to see if heat and spice is sufficient. If you want it hotter and spicier, let infuse for a few more days. This tastes great in a Bloody Maria, which is a Bloody Mary with Tequila instead of Vodka, or with a Sangrita (Tequila Sangria). Same concept for a green or red jalapeno.
Cucumber Infused Gin
One of my favorite infusions because I like cucumber. It’s a subtle flavor, but very healthy tasting. Use an English hothouse cucumber, which is a long, thin cucumber instead of the ordinary garden cucumber because it has more flavor and pairs better with gin. Rinse the cucumber and dry and slice the length of the cucumber leaving the skin on. Then slightly muddle by mashing it with a muddler or the back of a metal spoon to expose the juices. Place in bottle, cover and seal, and infuse for 7-10 days in a cool, dark place. Use 2 cucumbers per 750 ml bottle of gin. Use an English dry gin, like Beefeater. You can also use Hendrick’s gin, which is a gin already infused with cucumber and rose petals, if you would like a more cucumber flavor. To start, I would use regular gin and matriculate to the Hendrick’s if you desire more cucumber intensity. When finished, fine strain and store in the fridge up to a month.
If you want to get adventurous, I like to use the Rosemary herb in addition to the cucumber, which makes a splendid concoction. A little more involved here. More on this when I discuss herb infusions. Cucumber matches well with citrus flavors, all fish, and sushi. Combine the cucumber-infused gin with fresh lemon juice and simple syrup to create a Cucumber Martini with a nice cucumber ribbon peel on a skewer.
Next up...Herb Infusions...Enjoy!