Making luxurious additions to your cocktails is simpler than you might think. A small sprig of rosemary steeped in a homemade simple syrup made from equal portions of water and sugar is an absolute luxury infusion when mixed into a gin gimlet, lending the heady flavor and aroma of this sublime herb. Garnish with a piece of peeled, thumbprint-sized lime zest as a colorful floater on top and you have a modern twist on an old, classic, cocktail.
Making infusions could not be easier! First, begin with your spirit of choice such as vodka, tequila, whiskey, rum, or gin which are all a good base in which to begin. Though you can add almost anything to these spirits, think about the desired end effect you are trying to achieve. Do you want your final product to be fruity? Exotic? Savory? Try to stick with just a few ingredients to begin. Here are a few ideas to get you off the couch and into infusion mode!
Whiskey loves orange. Try slicing whole oranges including the zest and put them into a mason jar. Add some fresh cranberries and maybe a touch of cinnamon and add your whiskey to fill the container and keep it in a dark place for a week or so.
If you love spicy drinks, you can infuse jalapeño and lime into tequila or mezcal. If you want a more fruity drink, try vodka or rum with assorted fresh berries, pineapple, vanilla bean, or even mint leaves. Just make sure you wash and dry the ingredients well before you add them to the clean and dry jar. Mason jars work well but really, anything with a tightly sealed lid will do. You do not have to refrigerate your concoctions due to alcohol content, but you do need to keep them in a dark place as the light will spoil them.
How Long to Infuse?
Infusions can happen in as short of a time as an hour or so but are best (depending on the level of intensity you desire) rested overnight and up to a week or even in some cases many weeks. Once you have the desired flavors, use a fine strainer to collect the liquid while discarding (or eating) solids. Store at room temperature.
There is definitely an art to twisting a lemon peel and a quick internet search will yield many tutorials. Sometimes, simple garnishes are all you need, however. You can slice a lime from the center out and slip it onto the edge of a glass for a classic wheel look. You can add a spear of pineapple, a sprig of rosemary, a vanilla bean, or a celery stock for any tomato/clamato drinks. The garnish is eye candy for the cocktail, the more interesting–the more desirable the drink becomes. Olives, cherries, and pearl onions are classic garnishes skewered by a cocktail pick or even firm rosemary or lavender stem. Edible flowers are an elegant touch for a highball glass with an exotic mixture. Catmint or lavender, when in season, are gorgeous additions to any clear cocktail.
Try peeling an orange in one piece and curling it into a rocks glass for a simple bourbon on the rocks. It looks gorgeous and the flavors meld together beautifully creating a truly elevated bourbon experience.
It Must Be Cocktail Hour Somewhere
All in all, there’s no end to what you can use as a garnish. It should be the whim that entices the eye, so anything beautiful and artful will add instant appeal to the grateful cocktail recipient and will make the concoction all the more enjoyable and memorable while setting the tone for a great evening!
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