ExtractionsNovember 10, 2011
The idea of flavored liquor often brings back memories of a gag-reflex induced by a cherry vodka shot or even worse, the cloying sweetness of a mango rum cocktail. Luckily those vivid memories have been efficiently replaced over the last few years with infusions…
“Infused” liquors to be enjoyed on their own or mixed in cocktails are not a recent phenomenon. Throughout history, extracting the flavors of fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices in alcohol was commonplace. Some of the most popular spirits continue to be made in this way. However, the “home” or “small batch” infusion process that has begun to re-invigorate this practice in bars and gatherings around the world has made for some pretty exciting stuff (I don’t think ancient civilizations were sipping on pork infused liquors…)
But while infusion sounds really cool, this process should really be dubbed what it is…an extraction. As discussed before at the nobler, flavor components are made of small molecules. Take this tomato and black pepper vodka I made last year for my version of a straight up bloody mary. The flavor molecules from the ingredients are literally extracted by the alcohol. This same concept is used for all sorts of extraction methods because of how “easily” molecules dissolve in alcohols. For this reason, when purity matters, it’s a perfect process for an infinite number of creative opportunities.
Honestly, this is a no brainer to start trying at home. Use anything you like (fruits tend to impart the quickest and most obvious flavoring) and I promise you, you will never buy a flavored vodka again.