Infused Vodka


This post is the second in a series of three on edible handmade gifts.  You can find the first post on homemade vanilla extract here and the third post on homemade peppermint patty candies here.

My friend Harold, who used to guest post on Pro Bono Baker when this site was primarily dedicated to Chicago Bakery Reviews, makes excellent infusions.  He is fervently opposed to the notion that infusions have to sit for weeks on end, and creates most of his in under 30 minutes. 

Harold and I recently shared a warming winter meal at Russian Tea Time here in Chicago where we enjoyed a hearty spread of vareniky, Uzbek stew, and vodka flights.  We selected the coriander, caraway, and horseradish infused vodkas.  The horseradish infusion was so powerful and refreshing, that I decided on the spot that I should make it at home.

On a recent evening, I made three batches of infused vodkas to give as gifts: horseradish, cucumber and ginger.  Infusing your own vodka is simple and quick, and a bottle makes an excellent last minute gift — you only need an evening and two ingredients.  It is wise to use a vodka that you wouldn't mind drinking without flavor embellishments.  It doesn't have to be fancy though.  I found a good deal on a handle of Stolichnaya to use for my gifts.  I also enjoy using Monopolowa.  I used these Quattro Stagioni 1 liter bottles to make my infusions, but any glass bottle will do. 

Horseradish Infused Vodka


1/2 liter vodka
4 inches horseradish root


Pour half a liter of vodka into your glass bottle.  Using a vegetable peeler, skin the horseradish root.  Quarter the root from top to bottom with a sharp knife.  Now chop the four lengths into half-inch pieces.  Put the horseradish root into the vodka, give it a little shake, and set aside.  Horseradish is pungent.  I only let mine sit for about 3 hours.  It would be wise to check on it frequently in order to achieve your desired strength. Strain the vodka when it is complete.

Cucumber Infused Vodka


1/2 liter vodka
1 small cucumber


Pour half a liter of vodka into your glass bottle.  Rinse the cucumber and chop into quarter inch discs.  Put the cucumber slices into the vodka, give it a gentle shake, and
set aside. I let my cucumber vodka infuse over night.  When it has reached your desired strength, strain out the cucumber pieces.

Ginger Infused Vodka


1/2 liter vodka
3 inches ginger root


Pour half a liter of vodka into your glass bottle. Using a spoon, peel the ginger root. Chop into quarter-inch discs.  Put the ginger slices into the
vodka, give it a gentle shake, and
set aside. I let my ginger vodka infuse over night.  When it has
reached your desired strength, strain out the ginger pieces.

show hide 7 comments

kickpleat - last year i made limoncillo to give as gifts, now i’m running out of time so this looks perfect? three hours to make a horseradish vodka? sign me up! i’ll head to the liquor store shortly.

Joelen - What great gifts! I love those bottles… where could I find some? I have yet to check out the Russian Tea Time… hopefully soon since that menu sounds wonderfully comforting in this weather we’re having!

Gemma - Hi Kickpleat — It really is great bet for a last minute gift. Throw in some pickles and pumpernickel bread and you will have quite a night on your hands!
Joelen, I bought the bottles at the Container Store on North Ave. They are listed as “glass flasks” on their website. (The ones I found in the store differed a bit from the picture on the website.) They ended up being perfect for this project. Definitely check out Russian Tea Time. It is one of my favorite places in Chicago and I don’t visit them nearly enough. I always leave enormously full and happy.

Jesse - What a fantastic idea – I definitely would have done this as gifts if I knew I could infuse so quickly! And thanks for the heads up on Russian Tea Time (am just finding out that I lovelovelove Russian food!) – I’ll be in Chicago a lot in the next year or two so will probably be scouring your blog for places to check out.

cindym - We recently made a cucumber-cilantro vodka, and then made cocktails by mixing it with simple syrup, muddled limes, and a bit of fresh cilantro. You can also throw in some mint. They were great! Of course, I used the cheapest, harshest vodka possible. Might be better with something a bit more upscale. ;)

cindym - oh, and soda water. forgot that part.

Gemma - Hi Jesse. I was surprised how it was as well. I think the gifts were a hit. I hope you enjoy Russian Tea Time. I love Eastern European food as well and it is one of my favorite places. Have fun in Chicago. It is a great place to eat!
Hi Cindy, cucumber cilantro vodka sounds excellent. I will have to give that a try next time. The drink you made with it sounds very refreshing. I am going to try that one in the spring. Thanks!

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