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BANANA - BANA FO FANNA, CHERRY BERRY BO BERRY
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You can infuse a variety of flavors into vodka - fresh and dried fruits, vegetables and berries, herbs, vanilla beans, coffee or espresso beans, peppers and even garlic cloves can all be used to give your vodka a new flavor profile. There are even rose, bacon and candy flavored vodkas out there!

The key to creating the best home-made flavored vodka is quality. Fresh ingredients, the highest quality dried ingredients or spices/herbs, and a good quality vodka. You don't have to buy the most expensive designer vodkas, a medium quality vodka will do - but don't get cheapo and buy the discount brands. Don't used canned or frozen fruits or vegetables either.
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If you're using fruits you will want to slice them (berries remain whole) to allow more of the fruit flavor to infuse into the vodka. Remove any seeds or pits or rinds. With the herbs you will want to put them in a small bowl, pour a little of your vodka in with them and muddle them together and then put this mixture back into your vodka. The bruising, or crushing/muddling of the leaves allows for much more of the flavor to get into the vodka.

The same concept applies to peppercorns and herbs, garlic, coffee beans, or whatever seed, bean or leaf flavor you're going for. Smashing these up a bit releases the oils which are where most of the taste resides.

Be sure to wash your fruits, remove stems from herbs and any leaves from berries or peppers before you place them in the vodka. I often put my flavorings into cheesecloth bags. Since I like to use the original vodka bottle for my container I make these bags small enough to fit into the bottle opening. In the case of larger elements like fruit slices I forgo the cheesecloth bags but when my vodka has reached the flavor peak I'm going for I will pour it through a fine strainer and/or cheesecloth or even a coffee filter to remove any solids then pour it back into the bottle.

The main thing to remember is the more of the flavoring element you use and the longer you let it distill in the vodka, the stronger the flavor will be. I generally start checking the taste after 2 days and 2 weeks is the usually longest I let them distill though for certain items, like vanilla beans, I've let them work longer. As for the amount it's up to personal tastes how much of each element you use but generally the more of the flavor element the stronger the flavor.

Once you have added your flavor enhancers, seal the bottle up and leave the container in a dark, cool place. When your vodka has reached the flavor level you want you will want to strain it (even if you did use cheesecloth bags) to remove all the solids. You can then pour it back into the container you want to store it in. After you strain the vodka you can let it age for a few more weeks, this sometimes allows the flavors to continue to enhance the vodka.

If you're using dried fruits you can use the actual fruits separately for other purposes, like topping ice cream, pound cakes or as a sauce for savory or sweet dishes. I make Drunken Cherries a lot - I love eating the cherries straight out of the bottle - and I get the cherry flavored vodka at the same time. The one thing I will tell you - I prefer the dried fruits after only a day or two of infusion. If left longer they get overwhelmed by the alcohol flavor of the vodka and aren't as pleasant to eat - but the vodka gets a deeper flavoring.


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BACON! BACON! BACON!

Did you read that title right? Did I say bacon vodka? I did and you will be surprised how good it actually is. It's perfect for the savory martinis like my BL&T Martini or even a simple Bloody Martini.

Here's my recipe for Bacon Infused Vodka.

Wow, pig and booze - how can you beat that combo? Be still my heart has a whole new meaning now.

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SKITTLES VODKA?

Would I lie to you? Here's directions on how to make Skittles Favored Vodkas on my Skittles Martini Page! These are the most beautiful looking bottles of vodka you'll ever see - very Pop Art color wise and they make for some fun martinis. Check out my Happy Birthday Martini. You can mix the flavors too and create Lemon-Lime Skittles Vodka, Lemon-Orange and my favorite Grape-Cherry Skittles Vodka!

You can use candies like Jolly Ranchers and Red Hots too. Almost any hard candy will infuse it's flavor into the vodka - try peppermints or maybe some of the Werther's hard chocolate caramels!

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DON'T TOUCH THOSE TEST TUBES, IGOR!

Experiment and have some fun. Think of flavor profiles you like when you eat or cook. Because vodka is (or was traditionally) a potato based alcohol or a grain based alcohol it does not carry a strong flavor of it's own which makes it ideal for flavor infusing. Other liquors can be flavored too, such as rums, brandies, whiskeys and wines but you will have to experiment a bit to see the flavoring element does not clash with their unique tastes.

If you want to test a small batch grab a couple of those single shot mini bottles of vodka - the kind you get on the airlines or in a hotel mini bar - and try out a small batch!

Use your flavored vodkas as gifts or just hoard them to drink yourself - either way you will have discovered a whole new world of cocktail creation and your Happy Hour will have some extra happy in it!

CUSTOMIZABLE LABELS FOR YOUR HOMEMADE LIQUEURS!


Here's some great bottles for your new Vodka Infusions from Amazon - Have Fun and send me photos!



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How to make flavor infused vodkas.