Handmade Holidays: Infused Liquor

As we saw with some of the tragic injuries during Black Friday, holiday shopping can get out of control. Not only is it bad for us socially, but hitting the big box store is not so hot for the planet, either. Those great holiday deals are often produced in far off places using materials that are bad for workers and for the environment. This year, you can pledge to have a handmade holiday, where you promise to either buy your gifts from handmade artisans or make them yourself.

I always have the toughest time thinking up handmade gifts for the men on my holiday list. That was, until I discovered the joys of infusing. If the fellas on your list appreciate a good cocktail, an interesting infused liquor is sure to please! We’ll cover liquor infusing basics, a few recipes, and ideas for packaging your infusions!

Next>> Liquor Infusing Basics

Image Credit: Photo via Thinkstock

chopping fruit for infused liquors

Liquor Infusing Basics

Infusing basically means steeping and then, usually, straining. How long you steep depends on what ingredients you’re using and how strong you want the flavor to be.

Fruit Infusions

To infuse fruit, fill your jar about 1/4-1/3 of the way with your ingredients, then cover with liquor. Let your ingredients steep for about a week in a cool, dark place. Starting around day 5, you’ll want to check the infusion’s color and take a whiff. When it starts to look and smell good, strain through a few layers of cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve into your jar of choice.

It’s important to strain fruit-based infusions, because they look good at first, but as they sit in the bottle, they’ll start to lose their color and look none-too-pretty.

Herb Infusions

Herbs infuse a lot faster, and you don’t need as much to do the job. Place just a handful into a large, glass container, fill it up the rest of the way with your booze of choice, and steep for just 2-3 days. Strain into your jars, and you’re done!

With herbs, you can put back a couple of stems just for show. Hardy plants like rosemary and vanilla beans will keep looking lovely for a long time.

Sweetening

I am not crazy about sweetening my infused liquors, because I think that unsweetened they’re more versatile. If you want to sweeten, though, you definitely can!

Once your infusion is strained, add a few tablespoons of your favorite sweetener and add a teaspoon at a time until you’ve reached the desired sweetness. Sweeteners to try: sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, or honey. If you do decide to sweeten, you probably will want your label to advise your giftee to shake well, just in case it separates a bit!

OK, so you’ve got the basics. Do you need a few recipes to get started? We’ve got you covered on the next page!

Next>> Infusion Ideas

Image Credit: Photo via Thinkstock

lemon lavender cocktail

Liquor Infusion Recipes
You can do all fruit infusions or mix up fruit and herbs for fancy cocktails! Here are some liquor infusion combos to get you started:

  • Lemon lavender vodka – you can steep this for 5-7 days. It’s great in apple juice or lemonade.
  • Gingered rum – Slice fresh ginger into very thin rounds and steep for 2-3 days. Strain well. This is great for spiking apple cider!
  • Vanilla bourbon - Steep 3-4 vanilla beans in a bottle of bourbon for 2-3 days. No need to strain! Just divide between your jars, and put one of the vanilla beans in each jar for a bit of flair. Try this one in your nog of choice.
  • Grapefruit and basil vodka – steep for 5-7 days and strain well. Plain old seltzer water is excellent in this one! Add a splash of grapefruit juice if you like your cocktails sweeter.

Part of the fun when you’re infusing liquors is experimenting! Try mixing up fruits and herbs. A good way to find inspiration is to look through cocktail recipes to see what fruit/herb/liquor combinations go well together.

Now that the infusions are done, you need to package them up! We have some ideas on how to do just that on the next page.

Next>> Packaging Your Infusions

Image Credit: Photo via Thinkstock

Mason Jars

Packaging Your Infusions
Eco-friendly packaging is tricky, but for liquor infusions, I have a couple of favorite ways to pack it up:

  1. Mason Jars – I know, buying new isn’t always ideal, but a Mason jar is something that your recipient can reuse even after the liquor is gone.  You can consider the jar part of the gift!
  2. Reclaimed Glass Jars – Those pasta jars, juice bottles, and salsa jars are perfect for packaging your infused liquors. Just make sure you clean them out well to get the smell out and use orange oil to get those sticky labels off. Scrubbing the insides with salt and lemon juice can help if a run through the dishwasher doesn’t do the trick.

Once you’ve got your jars all sorted, it’s time to decorate! You can make custom labels out of recycled paper, decorate with fabric and ribbon – have fun with it! It’s also fun to tie a recipe to the jar to give your recipient an idea of how he can use his infused liquor. If you’re gifting grapefruit-infused vodka, for example, you can include a recipe for a greyhound or a salty dog.

Image Credit: Photo via Thinkstock

Related:
7 Gifts You Can Make in a Mason Jar
25 Easy Homemade Gift Ideas
Have a Handmade Holiday

53 comments

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers13 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne Rogers13 days ago

Thank you for sharing.

Cheryl B.
Cheryl B.2 years ago

sounds wonderful

Lynde T.
Lynde T.4 years ago

I need to do this!

Mandi A.
Ama A.4 years ago

Great idea... Beautiful photo

Sandi Bright
Sandi Bright4 years ago

I am blessed to have a neighbor with a huge paddle cactus. These are the ones with the beautiful magenta prickly pear fruits. I like to add the chopped fruit to vodka to make an infusion. The flavor and aroma are out of this world. And the color is the most beautiful magenta. It makes for an over the top drink presentation.

Sandi Bright
Sandi Bright4 years ago

I am blessed to have a neighbor with a huge paddle cactus. These are the ones with the beautiful magenta prickly pear fruits. I like to add the chopped fruit to vodka to make an infusion. The flavor and aroma are out of this world. And the color is the most beautiful magenta. It makes for an over the top drink presentation.

Sarah Metcalf
Sarah M.4 years ago

thanks

Carmen S.
Carmen S.4 years ago

thanks for sharing these great ideas

gary c.
Gary C.4 years ago

Thankyou.....