How to Infuse Vodka with Flavor

Flavored vodkas appear to be having a bit of a “moment.” Walk through the liquor section of a grocery market, and you’ll find vodka flavors like strawberry, lemon, whipped cream, cupcake… even bacon! (have mercy…) Whether or not you wish to experiment with the bounty of new vodka flavors, one thing is for certain – people are becoming more and more creative with their cocktails.

When it comes to any recipe, alcohol-related or not, I usually prefer to start from scratch. In terms of cocktails, rather than buying a flavored vodka, I thought it would be more fun to infuse the vodka with flavor myself. My friend Ashley walked me through the basics, and together we experimented with a few flavors. The process couldn’t be more simple. Just place your natural flavoring– citrus peels, strawberries, herbs, vanilla bean, or whatever you like from the list below– in a jar. Add the vodka and secure the lid. Give the mixture a good shake a few times a day. In 4-5 days, you’ll have naturally flavored vodka, which you can use in a variety of cocktail recipes.

For this post, we tried orange peel, basil and vanilla bean. They turned out fabulous, but don’t let those flavors limit your creativity. If berries are your thing, add at least a cup (or more) of whole, well-washed berries to your vodka. Same goes for pretty much any other fruit. Pineapple, melon and mango should be cut into chunks. And if you like spice, try adding some whole chili peppers to the jar – your bloody mary will never be the same.

I wanted to share this infusion method with you this week, so you have time to make some lovely infused vodkas for Purim. If you strain the flavored vodka into a pretty bottle, as we have here, they make a fun added “bonus” gift in a grownup Mishloach Manot basket. Flavored vodka is also a lovely “host gift” for any Purim parties you might be attending. In the coming days, I will share some cocktail recipes using these flavored vodkas, which you can print out and give along with the vodka. Stay tuned!

Note: To make this recipe gluten free, use a certified GF vodka made from potatoes.

Recommended Products

Here are links to the products and supplies we used in this post:

Quart Jars

Funnel

Mesh Strainer

Beautiful Glass Bottles

Wooden Tags

Twine

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How to Make Infused Vodka

You will need

  • 3-4 cups vodka
  • Funnel
  • Mesh strainer
  • Quart jar with lid
  • 3-4 cup capacity glass bottle with lid or cork

Optional Infusion Ingredients

  • Choose one ingredient per 3-4 cups vodka:
  • 2 oranges or lemons
  • 1-2 large sprigs of basil, or another favoriteherb (rosemary, mint, etc.)
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 cup clean berries
  • 1 cup fruit, cleaned and cut into chunks (pineapple, apple, melon, mango, etc.)
  • 4-5 chili peppers
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
Servings: Varies
Kosher Key: Pareve (if keeping kosher use a kosher-certified liquor)
  • First, prepare the flavoring/infusion ingredient you will be using in your infused vodka. Make sure any ingredient you plan on using is carefully rinsed clean. Citrus peels and waxy fruit should be thoroughly scrubbed clean with a mild natural detergent before proceeding.
  • If using oranges or lemons, use a peeler to peel the colorful part of the peel from the fruit, leaving the white part (the pith) behind. The pith can lead to bitterness, so you only want to use the thin outer layer of the citrus peel.
  • If using a vanilla bean, slice the bean from top to bottom in one long slit, keeping it attached at the upper stem, so that the bean looks like a large V-shape.
  • If using chili peppers, make a long thin slit into the skin of each pepper. Do not cut too deep or wide; the seeds need to remain in side the peppers. Just a simple slit will do it. Apples and other fruits with thin peels can be used, peeled or unpeeled, as long as they are clean with as little wax as possible on the exterior. Melons and other fruits with tough outer rinds should be sliced from their rinds prior to infusion.
  • Take a clean quart jar with a wide mouth and place your infusion ingredient inside. Pour 3-4 cups of vodka over the top of the infusion ingredient. You will want to measure the capacity of the bottle you'll be using at the end of the infusion process for storing the vodka, so you know how much it will hold. For the process photographed here, the bottles I'll be using for storage hold about 3 cups each. That means I'll be infusing 3 cups of vodka in the jar. You can use the original bottle that the vodka came in, if you wish, for storage-- just set it aside during the infusion process. You can also use jars to store the vodka, if you wish, but bottles tend to be more user-friendly when making cocktails.
  • Seal the jar with a lid. Place in a cool, dark area for 4-5 days to infuse. Here, we've done three separate infusions-- orange, vanilla, and basil.
  • Once daily, shake the vodka to speed infusion process. After 3 days, you can begin to test the flavor of your infusion. This is really a "to taste" kind of thing-- if it tastes right and smells right, with the essence of the flavoring you have chosen, then you can move ahead to the straining process. Our vanilla infusion was ready in 3 days; the other infusions took a bit longer. You want the vodka to have the flavor of the ingredient you've chosen, but you don't want that flavor to overwhelm.
  • Once the vodka is infused, you will want to strain it into a bottle for storing and/or gift giving. I used these lovely decorative Italian bottles (link in the post above). Use a funnel and a wire mesh strainer, or multiple layers of cheesecloth, to strain the liquor into the bottle. This straining process will rid the vodka of the infusion ingredients, as well as any larger particles that might have accumulated during infusion. If you've infused large or heavy ingredients, like chunks of fruit, you may want to fish them out before straining to avoid making a mess. And if you snack on a few of the fruit pieces, like infused pineapple, I won't tell anybody... just make sure you have a designated driver on hand. ;)
  • Seal the bottles. If giving as gifts, you can use decorative tags and twine to label the type of vodka you've infused. Here we used lovely wooden tags with natural twine (links in the post above).
  • Voila! Lovely infused vodka for gifting or making your own homemade cocktails. I'll be sharing cocktail recipes for the three flavors we made here in the next few days. Stay tuned!

 

Comments (68)Post a Comment

  1. I’ve done a couple of these with my partner, it’s fun!

    We made
    -“Pumpkin Pie Vodka” (pumpkin puree, clove, nutmeg, cinnamon)
    -“Apple Pie Vodka” (sliced and cored apples – mix of red and green, 4 cinnamon sticks)
    – “Blueberry Vanilla” (Half a container of blueberries and 2 vanilla beans, prepared as described in the post)
    – Citrus Raspberry (self explanatory)

    Surprisingly, the most popular with our friend was the Apple Pie, and the Pumpkin Pie was a TOTAL hit at Thanksgiving. The whole bottle (a full bottle of Iceberg) was gone by the end of the night.

    We tend to leave the ingredients much longer – 2-3 weeks, and then drink them just with sprite or soda water. or as a slushie with crushed ice. If you get creative like we did, the vodka itself becomes the cocktail.

    We also tried doing a mint chocolate vodka in December, but strangely, the baking chocolate that we had chopped up, hoping it would infuse, ended up emulsifying (or something of that nature), and the mixture took on a mousse-like consistency. A happy accident – it’s totally addicting!

    Next up on our list is a Israeli/Middle-Eastern inspired mixture, flavoured with Za’atar and Harissa-type ingredients (sumac, cumin, thyme and chili).

    1. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
      Hey, love it and thank u for sharing ur wonderful pumpkin idea!!! When u used the puree, was it a mushy mess when it came time to strain it? And would u be able to make an awesomespumpkinsauce tart with it afterwards? I am just getting started doing cupcakes and this really caught my attention. Would u be able to use fresh pumpkin instead of the canned? Thanks to all for your input…

  2. I made a set of six infused vodkas as a present for my husband a few years ago. We’re still working our way through them, so they can keep for a while! I used coffee filters during the straining process, which worked well.

  3. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thank you, Tori! What a great bargain for those beautiful bottles. They’re ordered and I am so excited to start infusing flavors! :-)

    1. You can leave them in, but I recommend straining them out when the flavor is where you want it to be. The longer they stay there, the stronger they infuse the vodka… so the flavor might become overpowering if you leave in something like chili peppers, or another strongly flavored add-in. Also some infusion ingredients will start to look strange and unattractive after a while (fruit in particular), and leaving them in can shorten the shelf life of the vodka. Good luck!

  4. I love this post! I was making my own speedy version of an infused vodka and came across yours a little too late. I did however add this post’s link at the end of my article, because it will be well worth my readers checking out!

    Thanks for this, can’t wait to try it your way and decant as you have done above! Bottles are stunning.

    Laura
    “A Shuffle In The Pantry”

  5. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    Had my first basil infused cocktail today. Made with fresh lemon and limes. Garnished with a basil leaf. It was so good I decided to make my own, and found this wonderful site.!
    Can’t wait to start the process…..thank you so much!!

  6. Hey Tori,
    Just came acroos your website looking for infused vodkas. Yours was the most infomative site…well done. Have you done any chocolate flavored vodkas?

  7. I want to infuse with caramel and apple. How long do you think caramel will take or should I add it after I remove the apples and leave it in?

  8. Hi
    INUFUSION… ITS ALL ABOUT FUSING THE DRINK WITH OUR OWN RECIPE’S.. WILL SAY YOU ONE THING TRY OUT WATERMELON INFUSION.
    Take the whole watermelon make a hole where you can place the bottle upside down and leave all the vodka inside the fruit.
    for best servings leave it in freezer for 3-4 days.

    See the results.
    Best for getogether..

    Bartender

  9. Yesterday I walked into a quirky little beer making shop in Salisbury England and came across about 60 flavors of difference extracts/essences for flavouring beer. I spoke to the woman at the shop and she says she has used some t flavour different spirits and even cakes and chocolates. Speaking to her she uses the extract, plus a few raw ingredients and the occasional bit of glucose.

    I am thinking about making some winter themed vodka to give away. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Citrus is always nice in winter– orange, lemon, or blood orange (they have a short season but I love the flavor!). Vanilla works year-round. Perhaps you could try something with pumpkin pie-type spices… whole nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, etc. Not sure how it would turn out, but it might be fun to experiment!

  10. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi!
    Having been at home for weeks following surgery i was getting a bit stir crazy – until i found your blog! I have made Christmas Pudding vodka – which is gorgeous and will be even better alongside a mince pie this Christmas. I have also got some satsuma and cranberry vodka ‘brewing’ and will be putting it in pretty bottles to use as gifts.
    I am thinking next of making some star anise infused vodka.
    Really enjoy your blog by the way!

  11. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Stumbled across this wonderful post, just in time for holiday gift giving! Thanks so much, including the links to the beautiful bottles, tags..
    Do you have any recommendations for which Vodkas work best, please?

    1. Hi Amanda, to infuse the vodka with apple you would remove the stem and seed and cut the apple into large chunks, about 8 or so. Then add a cinnamon stick for the cinnamon flavor. Hope it turns out well!

    1. Hi Camille, the shelf life depends on which ingredients you are using for infusion. They will last anywhere from a few months to a year (or longer, depending on how carefully you strain out the infusion materials). To extend the shelf life even longer, store your infusion in the freezer.

  12. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I am in the process of making my own brew ( got the kettle and pipes already personal use only lol ). So when I infuse it will homemade from start to finish. Your site has been a great help for me to get ideas

  13. Hi Torey, Love your recipes. I have a trivia query about cucumbers, does a cucumber taste any different if it’s scratched with a fork along the outside to make the grooves, or does it taste the same if it’s not scratched and left as it is????
    My mother-in-law swears it makes a difference, I actually tested it by blindfolding my husband and serving some scratched and non-scratched cucumbers and he could not tell the difference, that wasn’t good enough for the in-law, she’s adament it tastes different and my hubby doesn’t want to upset mother!!! What do you think?? :))
    Thanx.

    1. Margarida, I don’t think so! Shouldn’t taste different as far as I know… then again kale tastes much different after it’s massaged, and who am I to argue with Mother-in-Law? LOL ;)

  14. Very good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 starsVery good - 4 stars
    I am looking for a recipe for cosmo infused vodka. I made this from a recipe I found in a magazine and now I cannot find the magazine. It was a great hit and I would love to make it again. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

  15. Can you give me some recipe that in need to age for about year or more thank you I also try in Google I don.,t see any recipe

    1. You should only leave the ingredients in until the flavor of the vodka tastes right to you. Leaving them in too long will result in an unsatisfactory flavor in many cases. I don’t currently have any recipes that age for a year or more, sorry about that.

  16. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I’m confused as to why you claim that it is necessary to consume potato vodka. By the very science of distillation, the gluten is removed. Any gluten would need to be added post distillation or with the possibility of contamination somewhere in the product line:

    link to celiac.com
    The last line of the first paragraph explicitly states: All distilled liquors are gluten free.

    I would only mention this because I wouldn’t want people to miss out on some great liquors because they assumed the gluten made it through the process.

    1. Hi Matt, I recommend gluten free-certified vodkas because some friends of mine who are gluten free avoid all grain-based vodkas. Though the distillation removes gluten, traces may remain that can trigger those who are very sensitive to gluten. There are conflicting reports in this area. I am not GF, but I try to err on the side of caution when recommending a recipe that can be made gluten free. Here is a dissenting opinion on the grain vodka question:

      link to examiner.com

    2. Hello Tori, thanks for the reply!
      It did a bit more research and although I’m not a big fan of examiner.com for various reasons, it led to me to continue researching.
      link to noglutennoproblem.blogspot.com

      Basically, it appears we are both correct and I would have to say I completely agree with your recommendation to proceed with caution. The real problem seems to originate from cross-contamination inside of the facility. I must say I am very surprised upon reading the anecdotal evidence, which would suggest contamination at the least.

      I appreciate your response and keep up the great work! Good day.

  17. I’ve been infusing apple chunks and pomegranate seeds in a mason jar for about a week now. After a few days of checking up on it, I started to wonder: Can I remove the current apple chunks and pomegranate seeds and put it new apple chunks and pomegranate seeds for a stronger flavor? I have no idea if this would work but I have plenty of both.

    I also haven’t a clue what I would mix this with (or if I should just keep it for shots). Any recommendations?

    1. Hi Brian– yes, I think you could “reinfuse” with fresh fruit if you like. I would think this kind of infusion would be nice mixed with sparkling water (for a light summery drink) or in pretty much any cocktail calling for a fruit-infused vodka.

  18. hi
    so how long it keeps is based on what you infused it with? how much do you have to filter it to avoid it going off?

  19. hello
    thanks i want to separate the flavor with vodka and use in a recipe that does not need alcohol . how do i separate the alcohol from it and have a more concentrated flavor ? .

    1. Merime, there is no way to separate the flavor from the vodka. I would suggest if you need a flavoring for a recipe that does not need alcohol, that you should simply use a flavoring.

  20. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi Tori,
    I found a batch of Orangecello i started las Nov, peels are still in it……what do you think? Still good to strain and bottle up or can I mix with more vodka with it to cut it?
    Thanks in advance, Love your site!!

    1. Hi Betty– usually when I make limoncello I infuse the vodka and add the simple syrup after infusion before bottling. If you just infused the vodka without simple syrup, it should be fine to strain as long as there is no visible mold or bacteria growth (example– if some of the peels are not completely covered by alcohol, bacteria can grow and it wouldn’t be safe to drink). The flavor will probably be fine, but you should taste to make sure– infusion stops once all of the oils are pulled out of the peels, so you can’t really over-infuse it as far as I know. I wonder if there might be a little bitterness to it after sitting so long; the only way to tell is to taste. If you added simple syrup, I am not really sure– it would depend on the ratio of alcohol to syrup. You should have a high percentage of alcohol in order to avoid spoilage without refrigeration. So I guess the answer is, it depends! Hope that is somewhat helpful. :)

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