tips for tuesday

©from maggie's farm 2011
the bar is in full swing, and floating rounds of cocktails permeate the garden outside, until the air is alive with chatter and laughter, and casual innuendo and introductions forgotten on the spot, and enthusiastic meetings between women who never knew each other’s names. --the great gatsby, f scott fitzgerald

on days such as these, the hottest days of summer, i like to imagine that i'm not toiling in the gardens, sweat dripping on the tomatoes i'm pruning, i'm not dusty from dry, caked dirty work of the drought,  i don't have the same earthy scent as my dogs, i'm not swatting grasshoppers from every vegetable i tend.  where i at a garden party.  in my big floppy, daisy buchanan-esque gauzy hat, and cool linen shift,
yes, that's me
the wafting aroma of gardenias, the lush green lawns of east hampton, the cool balmy breeze of dusk, the polite laughter of genteel society, and the delicate tinkling of cocktail glasses meeting upwards to toast the occasion.  yeah, my imagination works overtime like that.  but about those tinkling cocktail glasses.........
infused liquors are the easiest of do-it-yourself-ings.  by the end of the week, you can have a pretty little shelf-full of colorful, flavorful concoctions of your choosing.  a few simple steps, from

  1. Choose your spirit:
    Your base spirit will set the foundation for a good infusion. Choosing a decent spirit that is smooth and clean will allow the added flavors to shine. If you're experimenting with a new infusion you may want to use a less expensive bottle so as not to waste money or good liquor.
  2. Choose your flavors:
    Herbs, spices and fruits are most comonly used for infusions. The most popular infusions are fruit based, however you can use your imagination to create some wonderful combinations. For best results, use fresh ingredients only.
  3. The Beginning:
    The process itself is very easy. Choose a clean, air-tight jar: quart sized mason jars work well. Using smaller jars will allow you to divide a liter of liquor into a few jars, giving you the ability to create small batches of a variety of flavors at once. Wash the ingredients, place them inside the jar and fill it with vodka. Shake a few times and cover tightly with a lid.
  4. Infusion Time:
    You will want to store your infusion in a cool, dark place and shake it 3-5 times a day for the duration of the infusion. On average the ingredients should stay in the liquor for 3-5 days. Some of your more intense flavors will only need 3 days, less intense flavors should stay in the jar for a full week or more (see the infusion times list below). You will want to do a taste test every few days to see if the flavors are sufficient.
  5. The Finish:
    Once your infusion has reached it's peak in flavor you'll need to take the flavoring ingredients out of the jar. Use a fine strainer or paper coffee filter to strain the vodka into another clean jar or bowl. You can return it to it's original jar if you would like, cleaning the jar thoroughly first. Store the finished infusion as you would any other liquor of it's type.
  1. Ingredient Preparation:
    • Berries: wash and leave whole, but score the skins on harder berries
    • Pineapple, Mango and similar fruit: wash and cut into chunks
    • Strawberries and Citrus fruit: wash and slice thinly or use zests of lemons and oranges
    • Vanilla Beans: wash and cut lengthwise
    • Herbs: wash and use whole (stems and all)
    • Peppers: wash and leave whole or cut in half
    • Garlic: use whole cloves, removing the layers of skin
  2. General Infusion Times:
    Use these times as a guideline to gauge how long you should leave the ingredients in a jar of liquor.
    • 3-4 days: Intense flavors such as vanilla beans, lemons, oranges, grapefruit, limes, mint, garlic, tarragon, basil, oregano, dill, thyme and peppers
    • 1 week: Moderate flavors such as cantaloupes, strawberries, peaches, mangoes, pitted cherries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
    • 2 weeks: Mild flavors such as pineapple, ginger and lemon grass.
  3. What to do with your infusions:
    Allow your creative juices to keep flowing as you decide what to do with your new flavored liquor. Try a strawberry-kiwi Vodka Martini or a lemongrass-grapefruit Vodka Tonic or a mint-vanilla bean Moscow Mule. The spicier concoctions like garlic-habenero make an unbelievable Bloody Mary.  (

or try our cocktail from yesterday, the sweet cherry firecracker, made from spiced cherry infused vodka.  we'll go into detail this week on thirst thursdays, notes from maggie's farm.  see you then!

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