Wednesday, June 1, 2011

hilary's kitchen adventures : skittles-infused vodka

I recently went to a bar called Mid-City Yacht Club in New Orleans. Ironically, it is not a yacht club by any means -- it's actually a dive bar in a residential area in the very cool neighborhood of Mid-City. And what makes it so special? Well, the infused liquor, of course -- just like all yacht clubs, right? Personally I tried the Skittles-infused vodka and the Starbursts-infused vodka. A friend of mine tried mint-infused rum, which tasted like mouthwash to me -- yuck. So as I sipped on my Starburst-infused vodka and Sprite, I thought... why can't I do this?
I had read about making infused vodka awhile ago, when I was trying to think of cool gift ideas for my friends for the holidays. Just stick some stuff in a bottle with some booze, right? Couldn't be too hard. I particularly liked the Skittles one, so I decided to start with that.
I found instructions and got to work. I opted for a new type of Skittles, Skittles Blenders, ones that combine two flavors in each small candy.

 I bought three small plastic (the instructions recommend glass, but I found plastic to be perfectly acceptable... and I didn't get sick or anything, so choose your container at your own risk!) drink containers to use to infuse. I sorted the Skittles (a dangerous task often resulting in taste-testing each flavor) by color. I had three containers, and there were five flavors. I didn't like the blue one, so it was out, and I combined the orange and pink because they tasted awesome together. I only used one bag and one handle of vodka. I simply poured each color (or color combination) into its own container, then split the vodka among the bottles. No math or measuring necessary. I shook them vigorously, as per directed, and the color already started to fade off the Skittles. Next, I put them in the fridge overnight to soak.

The next day, I checked on my infusions -- they were looking BRIGHT! And the Skittles had all but disappeared, leaving a kind of gross white froth on the top of the liquid. Yuck. It had to go before serving. So like the instructions recommend, I set up the straining process.

 Each color had a different amount of froth (weird, right?), so I varied how many coffee filters I used (one or two). I just stuck them in a funnel in a cup. I poured the mixture into the funnel until it was full, then let it drain for about ten minutes. Please note this is a VERY annoying process. But the results are worth it! In the background, you can see the pre-filter substance (left) and the post-filter results (right). Muuuch better.

So yes, the filtration process does take a considerable amount of time, patience, and hand-washing, but by the end, you will have a seriously delicious concoction. I recommend mixing it with Sprite since yes, it is still straight vodka (a realization a friend did not make before taste-testing the brew). It is very, very sweet, but super delicious.

Our Cinco de Mayo party drink table (not awful considering we decided two days prior, on el tres de Mayo, if you will, that we were going to throw a shin-dig). You can see the bright Skittles vodka bottles on the back right (next to Skinny Girl Margarita, naturally, homemade piña coladas, and bucket strawberry margaritas... Olé!). You can also see the incredibly terrible tequila-infused pineapple (turns out the tequila-infused pineapple is MUCH stronger than the pineapple-infused tequila, and I would not recommend it to anyone because, unlike a shot, it doesn't go down quickly -- you just have to keep chewing and chewing. Ugh, disgusting. Sorry, Chris.).

I think next time I will go for a fancier infusion, like rosemary vodka or something cool like that! Maybe vanilla bean?

Have you infused liquor before? What's your recipe?

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