How to Infuse Your Own Cocktails

5 simple steps for transforming spirits at home


With the boom of craft cocktails and artisanal liquors, bars across the country are infusing their own spirits. From spicy pepper vodka to sweet pineapple-infused rum, these transformed spirits are perfect for whipping up a uniquely distinct cocktail in a flash.

Though the idea of an infused liquor is rather high end, doing so at home is incredibly easy and approachable. A perfect way to dress up the next gathering with friends or start a simple yet fun weekend adventure at home.

Head to the liquor store for a quality spirit of your choice and then purchase infusing ingredients accordingly. If you plan to create a mixed cocktail from your infused liquor, think of the flavors of the cocktail for steeping ideas. Perhaps a cranberry-infused vodka for a Cosmopolitan, or a cherry-infused whiskey for a Manhattan, for example.

Read on for our five simple steps for infusing your own spirits, and be sure to let us know your favorite infusing combinations in the comments below!

Photo courtesy A. Strakey via Flickr/CC
1. Pick your base alcohol
Depending on what you plan to create, pick your spirit accordingly. Vodka can take on the flavor of most foods, but sweeter alcohols like rum pair best with fruit. Be sure to purchase quality alcohol as it will make an impact on your final product.

2. Pick your infusing ingredients
The options here are endless. While many enjoy sweets like peaches or berries, others love herb-infused drinks. Try things like mint, rosemary or thyme. Use anything from bacon to peppers to oranges, this is your time to play.

3. Mix
Put the ingredients in a clean, air-tight jar and close tightly. Shake to mix ingredients and then keep in a cool, dark place to steep. While strong flavors may only need a few days, weaker ingredients will need more time. On average you can expect to wait three to five days.

4. Check your infusion
Be sure to check on your jars every day, shaking three to five times per day to ensure the flavor mixture.

5. Finish
After the duration of your steeping period, strain out the infusing ingredients from the liquor. Store the finished spirit as you would other alcohols of the same type.

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  • Snooth User: Kyle Graynor
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    455797 7,460

    This might be a silly question, but when you say store it in a cold dark place, would a refrigerator work, or should it not be in the fridge for whatever reason?

    Also, you forgot step 6 - eat the fruit! After making Swedish glogg, eating the raisins is an integral part of the process!

    Mar 06, 2012 at 4:46 PM

  • Snooth User: Kate Statton
    Hand of Snooth
    853836 1,080

    Hi Kyle - I would recommend a dark cabinet over the fridge. Refrigerator temps can be a bit too cold, and the light from opening/closing the fridge door isn't best. Plus, you don't want your steeping spirits being juggled around, in the way of daily munching. Eating the fruit is a definite perk of this process, but be careful - that can be some strong fruit!!

    Mar 06, 2012 at 5:43 PM

  • Snooth User: C AT
    485512 5

    Ahhh, but the fruit makes great baked goods !!!! Remember this over the holidays. Also the fruit makes great syrup for ice creams and other frozen concoctions and used to make ice creams. But then, you COULD just eat it and enjoy !!!!!

    Mar 06, 2012 at 6:17 PM

  • A nice Sunday brunch treat - mix of fresh fruit and steeped fruit, topped with a little dab of plain yogurt. We use small dishes, say a couple blackberries steeped in brandy with unsteeped blueberries and raspberries. Drizzle a tsp. of steeped brandy over all. Yum and it's a way to get my husband to eat fruit.

    Mar 06, 2012 at 8:24 PM

  • It's funny how the conversation suddenly moved from the infused alcohol you've created, to what to do with the leftover infused fruit. You'll find the flavor (and texture) transformed now that the alcohol has leached all the flavors out. The pieces will generally be a little tough, very hot with alcohol, and unpleasant when eaten alone. (The real reason to find a new use for them is they're high proof!)

    I like to buy a 1.75 liter bottle of plain old Jim Beam and infuse it with the peeled skin of one orange (and recently tangerine). Oxo peelers are great as they are easy to control and accurately remove just the skin of the fruit, none of the bitter pith. This should only infuse overnight. Longer than that and the bourbon will get obnoxious with orange and you don't want that. (You may in fact, prefer just a whiff of orange, in which case test your bourbon at the two-hour mark and see if that's enough.) When infused to your liking, re-bottle the results and use this for terrific whiskey sours, old fashioneds, and Manhattans. (I've also used Rittenhouse Rye for this but don't prefer it when infuse with orange. You might.)

    NOTE: Always buy organic when infusing, so the product you work with is pesticide- and chemical-free.

    Mar 07, 2012 at 8:45 AM

  • Snooth User: samdavid
    1051830 0

    I infused some vodka with pineapple about 6 months ago. It has been steeping in the fridge, with the fruit in it, this whole time. The fruit has darkened up. Is it still drinkable? Thank you.

    Mar 07, 2012 at 11:01 AM

  • Snooth User: craigpenz
    511106 11

    I tried infusing vodka with slices of peeled cucumbers, left it for a couple of days and then the flavors weren't great, almost had a pickled smell. I also wanted to try infusing with fresh herbs like lemon basil and I ended up with the same type of damp, pickle-type smell. I think I left them in too long but it was only for two days. Any tips or suggestions?

    Mar 07, 2012 at 12:50 PM

  • Snooth User: Kate Statton
    Hand of Snooth
    853836 1,080

    Craig - sounds like everything was left in a bit too long. Where were you storing your infusions? Also, what proof was your alcohol? It seemed to have taken on a vinegar-like nature somewhere along the way.

    Sam - I'd say not to eat the fruit. Perhaps you could use the liquor as a syrup rather than spirit. Give it a whiff/taste and see how it seems.

    Mar 09, 2012 at 5:32 PM

  • Snooth User: rastusbear
    517073 12

    what is the difference between an infusion and a tincture? is there any?

    Mar 16, 2012 at 5:10 PM

  • Snooth User: Moongypsy
    1337603 2

    At the beginning of this summer (2013) I bought 3 bottles of gin. One I infused with a whole sliced lime, one with a whole sliced lemon, and one with a handful of small onion bulbs. At the same time, and all summer long I've made lavendar simple syrup, and rosemary simple syrup. Gin and tonics made with lime infused gin and rosemary syrup are delicious! They are nearly a rosemary clooney( a few ingredients difference). The onion infused gin with rosemary simple syrup was also pleasing. The lemon infused gin was the weakest, but the lavendar symple syrup made up for the difference.

    I still have some of the onion gin and lemon gin left and they are still good for use. They have been in the garage refrigerator for months with no ill effects. I haven't eaten the fruits because I infused in the bottles, but the onions are special little gifts from the process.

    Aug 31, 2013 at 9:55 PM

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