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Upgrade Your Vodka Cocktails With One Simple Trick

It's never been easier to make a more interesting Martini or Gimlet.

<p>Getty Images</p>

Getty Images

Well-crafted infused spirits feel — and not to mention taste — especially extravagant. We love gifting a rosemary-infused vodka as a housewarming surprise or toting it to a dinner party as a host gift. (It doesn’t hurt to have a bottle on hand for elevated home cocktails, either.) If you’re searching for a personal gift or signature cocktail recipe that isn’t too labor-intensive, your best bet might already reside on your bar cart. Plan a couple of hours ahead, grab a fantastic spirit, and let’s start infusing.

How to make infused vodka

First, start with a favorite bottle (we especially love these vodkas) or neutral grain spirit. You’ll want to choose something with a smooth silkiness and clean distillate — a blank canvas for adding flavor, as mixologist Brenton Mowforth explains. Add your choice of fruit, vegetables, and herbs, and then store at room temperature for six hours to overnight. (The exact infusion time depends on the intended flavor strength and choice of infusions.)

Creativity is the name of the game here, but there are a few tried-and-true recipes for delicious success. Sliced strawberries and citrus peels add a classically bright flavor, while cucumbers, sage, and basil lean a bit more refreshing. Tart, cherry-infused vodka is also delicious when poured over soda water, but Mowforth warns to always remove the pit (which contains small amounts of cyanide) before infusing.

Related: 15 Exceptional Vodka Cocktails, From a Vesper to Martini Variations

Craving something on the spicy side? At New York City’s Madame George, bar director Marshall Minaya crafts a spicy tincture by infusing tequila with jalapeño and serrano peppers for 24 hours. Leftover garnish trimmings and dehydrated fruit also work wonders. You can even create other potent tinctures, bitters and orange liqueurs with a higher-proof spirit and extended infusion time, Minaya says.

It might take a couple rounds to nail down the perfect recipe, so don’t be afraid to tweak the temperature and infusion time to reach the right flavor strength.

To draw out more subtle flavors in a shorter amount of time, you could try using heat to quickly infuse your spirit of choice. Heat a pot of water to a low to medium temperature without boiling. Then, add all ingredients to a plastic bag and submerge in the water for two hours. While this hack might work well with fruit and sturdy herbs, Mowforth suggests using a gentler temperature for sage and mint. Otherwise, these ingredients could become oxidized and bitter.

Related: 7 Flavored Syrups for Cocktails, Coffee, Baking, and More

“The difference between a great infused spirit and an outstanding one is understanding the balance you want to achieve,” Mowforth says. “You want a lot of flavor, but you don't want to add so much that it becomes astringent.”

Once you've made your infused vodka, the cocktail possibilities are endless — we're especially fond of using it to elevate a classic Martini, Gimlet, and Bloody Mary.

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