Want to create a signature drink? All you need is vodka and a trip down the produce aisle.
By Abigail Aronofsky
Vodka doesnâ€™t have a volatile reputation for nothing. Itâ€™s colorless, odorless, and can be made with practically anything from wheat to potatoes to soy and it packs a hefty alcohol content of about 45 percent by volume. The spiritâ€™s purity makes it an ideal blank slate to infuse your own flavors. But weâ€™re not talking about mixing it with cranberry juice. Weâ€™re talking about dumping some real cranberries into a vodka bottle and letting it sit for a couple of weeks. Kenny Addington, executive chef at Bette restaurant in Manhattan, helped craft a lemon-cucumberthyme infusion thatâ€™ll complement your next cookoutâ€”and looks a lot cooler on your deck than a beer-can pyramid . He also gave us some tips on how to select ingredients and mixers for your own infused vodka.
Pick Your Poison
â€œChoose ingredients with a little bit of natural oil. Citrus fruits are great; chilies work well because of the capsaicin.
Spices that lend themselves well to vodka include cardamom and thyme, which adds a floral note.â€?
Make it a Conversation Piece
â€œYou can use a mason jar or, for visual effect, mix right in the bottle.â€?
Time it Right
â€œYou donâ€™t want vodka to sit for more than a couple of weeks be cause itâ€™ll make the mixture bitter. Most infusions should sit one or two weeks; any longer and it starts getting rancid.â€? This infusion will turn light yellow after a week and a half at room temperature. When the beverage starts smelling like a lemon drop and tastes sweet almost melon-like-strain it into another container and youâ€™re ready to drink.
Pair with Care
â€œYou donâ€™t want to challenge the flavors youâ€™re working with. Soda and light juices work great.â€?
Bette’s Thyme Out
2 1/2 oz. thyme, lemon, and cucumber-infused Stoli
1/2 oz. dry vermouth
Shake with ice and strain into chilled martini glass.
Garnish with thyme sprig and cucumber slice.