Want to create a signature drink? All you need is vodka and a trip down the produce aisle.
By Abigail Aronofsky

Special BlendVodka doesn’t have a volatile reputation for nothing. It’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 spirit’s purity makes it an ideal blank slate to infuse your own flavors. But we’re not talking about mixing it with cranberry juice. We’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 that’ll complement your next cookout—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
“Choose 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.�

Make it a Conversation Piece
“You can use a mason jar or, for visual effect, mix right in the bottle.�

Time it Right
“You don’t want vodka to sit for more than a couple of weeks be cause it’ll make the mixture bitter. Most infusions should sit one or two weeks; any longer and it starts getting rancid.� 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 you’re ready to drink.

Pair with Care
“You don’t want to challenge the flavors you’re working with. Soda and light juices work great.�

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.

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