Garden-Fresh Vodka Infusions That Will Step Up Your Summer Cocktail Game
If you're the type who likes a weekend project—or even if you're the type who hates a weekend project but loves a delicious cocktail—we've got just the thing for you.
With just a few days of steeping time and minimal effort, vodka infusions are a super-easy way to make use of summer produce while taking your go-to vodka sodas to the next level. Plus, you get to feel a bit like a flavor scientist while you're at it.
With the farmers market practically bursting at the seams this time of year, there's no better time to try out making a few infusions than right now. If experimenting sounds fun to you, check out our general guidelines for how to play around below.
If you'd rather just follow a recipe, skip to the bottom for an awesome turmeric-ginger infusion you can use as practice, plus a bright and sunny pitcher cocktail to serve it up at your next party. The only things you need to get started are a Mason jar, a bottle of vodka, and a little bit of patience.
How to make a vodka infusion:
1. Pick a flavor—or a flavor combo—that sounds good to you. Keep it to two flavors per infusion, unless you're feeling really confident. Any fruit you like will work great solo; strawberry-basil, pineapple-jalapeno, cucumber-mint, blackberry-rosemary, and ginger-turmeric are all winning duos.
2. Make a small batch first to make sure you like it. Try 1-cup batches in Mason jars as testers before committing to infusing a whole 750-mL bottle. A bottle that size contains just over 3 cups of vodka, so when it's time to make a full-serve version, just multiply your infusion ingredients by three.
3. Gather everything you need. Fresh fruits, veggies, and herbs are best for infusions, and pick a vodka that's smooth and neutral—we like to use Tito's Handmade Vodka for its quality and reasonable price point.
4. Prep your ingredients. Wash well, then slice or chop your ingredients and add them to your jar. You can leave small fruits like blueberries whole, but quarter figs or strawberries, and slice or roughly chop anything bigger. Fresh herbs can be left whole on their stems. Ginger and turmeric should be peeled and sliced (hot tip: Wear gloves when prepping the turmeric, unless you want yellow-orange fingers). For more specific guidelines on other ingredients, this list is helpful.
5. Add your vodka, give it shake, then...wait. As long as your infusion ingredients are totally covered with the vodka, there's really no wrong way to do this. Use these guidelines below for experimenting:
- Fresh herbs: 1 to 2 small stems or sprigs per cup of vodka; steep for 1 to 3 days.
- Fresh ginger or turmeric: 1 oz. (about 1 inch) per cup of vodka; steep for 1 to 3 days.
- Hot peppers: ½ to 1 whole pepper per cup of vodka; steep for 1 to 2 hours, taste testing along the way for your desired spiciness (be careful...depending on the heat of your pepper you may want to de-seed or scale down!).
- Fruits or veggies: 1 cup cut fruit per cup vodka; steep for 3 to 5 days.
6. Taste test every day. Some ingredients will infuse way faster than you think; for example, when making something like strawberry-basil vodka, remove the herbs after one day so the basil doesn't totally eclipse the strawberry flavor. (Too much herbiness can taste medicinal.) When your infusion tastes good to you, that probably means it's done! But feel free to experiment with mini batches to get to know how your favorite ingredients taste after infusing for different lengths of time.
Turmeric-Ginger Vodka Infusion
Makes one 750-mL bottle
- 1 750-mL bottle Tito's Handmade Vodka
- 3 oz. organic fresh turmeric, peeled and sliced
- 3 oz. organic fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
- Add ginger and turmeric to a glass container with a lid large enough to hold all the vodka, such as an extra-large Mason jar. (You can divide between multiple jars if necessary; just keep the ratio 1 oz. turmeric and 1 oz. ginger to 1 cup vodka.) Pour the vodka on top. Give the jar a good shake, then place in a cool spot away from direct sunlight. Allow to steep at room temp for 2 to 3 days, giving it a good shake each day.
- When it's done steeping, strain through a cheesecloth-lined mesh strainer into a clean container or bottle. Serve over ice with soda water and a big squeeze of lime, ginger beer, or the Sunny Day cocktail below.
Sunny Day Pitcher Cocktail
When it's time to serve, you get to play flavor scientist all over again. Certain infusions are awesome in specific cocktails—the turmeric-ginger-infused vodka below is killer with ginger beer or in the pineapple and lime cocktail included below—but in general, you can't go wrong sipping your infusion over ice, or topped with soda water and a big squeeze of lemon or lime.
- 1½ cups Tito's Handmade Vodka
- 3 cups pineapple juice
- 3 limes, juiced
- Soda water to top
- 6 mint sprigs, for garnish
- Combine vodka, pineapple juice, and lime juice in a pitcher. Stir combine. Top with soda water to taste.
- To serve, pour into ice-filled glasses and garnish with a mint sprig or a lime wedge.