You might not be able to cut it as a Master Distiller but that doesn’t mean you can’t create your own booze. Not from scratch obviously, that takes time, patience and a whole lot of skill. Infusions though, that’s a different matter entirely.

Citrus vodka, cucumber gin, cherry brandy, these are just a few of the aromatic homemade libations you can add to your drinks collection. They’re simple to make, give added ‘oomph’ to your cocktails and will definitely earn you bonus points in the clever clogs department.

And when we say simple, we really do mean it. All you need is a base spirit – vodka is perfect due to its neutrality; go for something like Smirnoff, Russian Standard or Absolut – good, dependable brands which you can usually pick up on special offer. Then it’s the fun part: deciding on the flavour.

Vanilla is a good one to start with. Take 3-4 vanilla pods, split them down the middle lengthways and add to a sterilised kilner jar. Then pour in a whole bottle of vodka (trust us, it won’t go to waste), shake and store in a cool, dry place.

How long you’ll need to leave it depends on the pods, where you’ve stored the infusion and the temperature of the room, so check every few days for colour (it should be a nice deep amber – think cognac) and taste (you want to get the rich creaminess of the vanilla before it starts to impart any bitterness) giving it a gentle shake every now and again – about a week to ten days should do the trick.

When it’s ready, strain through a muslin cloth and decant into a sterilised bottle. Et voila! Either sip it icy cold in shot glasses or better still, try it in our favourite after-dinner recipe:

Vanilla Martini

25ml homemade vanilla-infused vodka
25ml plain vodka
20ml Monin Vanilla Liqueur
10ml Monin Vanilla Syrup

Shake all ingredients thoroughly over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Written for The Independent Dish of the Day blog 4/4/2013


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