You may have heard me go on about some of the flavoured vodkas we’ve been making at home in my other posts. Since our success with our first ever home made Sloe Gin last Autumn (we foraged for the sloes and then made up lots of little bottles to go into our Christmas Hamper gifts) we have really gotten into making our own boozes. Adam had the cunning idea of making up some flavoured vodkas with various ingredients, and for the last few months we’ve been trying them out!
It’s so incredibly easy, inexpensive, and rewarding….we have created some very special drinks with our vodkas, and just like the sloe gin they make excellent gifts. So I thought I’d share our experiences with you….how to go about making them, things we learned along the way, and the flavours that turned out the best!
What you will need:
- Vodka….. we have been experiementing with small amounts (like 250 ml) and then making up to 1l when we know we like it…. it is still worth buying a decent brand for flavouring, as a lot of the flavour does come from the vodka itself, especially with the lighter flavourings
- Something to put it in….. we have used whatever is around, but kilner jars are good to steep larger ingredients in so you can get them out easily, and swing top bottles work similarly well for small ingredients but have the same good seal…. make sure there is enough room for all the vodka and a bit to spare, so you can swirl it around
- Something to flavour with….. you can use practically anything here (although we’ve been trying to be a little more sophisticated than the traditional Skittles)…… more on this later
- A large enough jug to fit the lot
- A funnel
- A coffee filter paper to fit the funnel
- Measure out your vodka into your bottle or jar….nothing is precise about this really, but it’s good to have an idea of quantities if you’re experimenting
- Carefully tip in your flavouring
- Close the bottle or jar tightly, and then give it a really good shake and swirl about
- Leave it to stand for 24 hours,in a cool dark place
- After that, you can start testing it….. open up the bottle and pour a little onto a tea spoon to taste, but ensure you don’t get any of the flavouring in with the sample so you’re only tasting the vodka
- Sometimes you’ll want to leave it up to a week, but keep testing each day to ensure it’s taking the flavour, and isn’t getting over-powering
- Once you’re pleased with the taste, take your jug, and place the funnel on top with the coffee filter inside….then simply empty the contents of the bottle slowly into the filter paper…. depending on the flavouring it may take a while to filter into the jug, so don’t just tip it all out at once (there’s a picture of this bit below)
- Once the vodka has been filtered, discard the flavouring left behind in the filter, and give your bottle a quick rinse (just to get rid of any left over bits of flavouring) before pouring the vodka back into it
- You should now have a crystal clear, beautifully flavoured vodka, ready to drink! The colour will vary depending on the flavouring, but we are finding that most come out a shade or other of golden yellow.
So….flavouring ideas….. We have found that we can use almost anything to flavour our vodkas, but of course some have worked better than others….
Rose was our first triumph…. into a litre of vodka tip a handful of dried rose petals (we got ours in an ethnic food shop, they sit with the teas) and leave for about 5 days. As you’ll see in the pictures, we have enjoyed these with ice and lemonade (it reminds me of Turkish Delight!), and garnished with a slice of lemon and a rose petal. I thought that pink lemonade would be a great idea, so that we could call the drink ‘Turkish Delight’, but because of the raspberry in it, the flavour just wasn’t as good…. the lemon perfectly balances the flowery vodka, and I think it’s fine just to leave it that simple.
Cardamom was one of the flavours to develop fastest… it only needed a day to get a nice delicate flavour, and after two days is just wonderful. To a litre of vodka, chuck in about a dozen cardamom pods, having crushed them gently with the side of a knife. This goes really well with lemonade too, but we loved it with ice, tonic water, a squidge of lime cordial or fresh juice, and a dash of Angostura bitters. It’s so refreshing!
Coffee is lots nicer than you might imagine! We used a handful of beans to a litre of vodka (steeped for just a couple of days)…. as with the vodka, it’s worth using really good beans. I swear by Monmouth‘s amazing roasted beans which we use day to day and gave a very smooth and rich flavour to the vodka (although I’m afraid I can’t remember exactly which ones!). This one is brilliant chilled and neat, although it did rather surprisingly taste devine mixed with coca cola!
Jasmine Green Tea is rather lush too. We used a couple of tea bags for half a litre and left it for about three days. It’s great chilled on its own, and lovely with lemonade or tonic water, although you can taste it really well alongside soda water as a mixer.
Ginger was actually a bit of a disappointment…. we sliced up about a 3cm cube to mix with a half litre, but the vodka never really took the flavour that well, and didn’t really work with the taste of the vodka.
Lavender is our latest experiment…. we just put in a few tea spoons of dried lavender (we got a little jar of Bart‘s from the spice rack at Waitrose, but if I had a garden I would use home grown!) and then left it for about a week. I just filtered it yesterday, and it tastes incredible! I’m yet to try it with anything else, but I’m envisaging it tasting wonderful with cream soda and garnished with marshmallow….watch this space!
We’re planning on trying out some more flavoured vodkas (I picked up a tin of Kusmi Violet tea in Paris which I want to try as a flavouring, and I have a stack of cinnamon sticks to use too!), so any ideas you have, do share! We are also looking forward to the end of summer so that we can forage for sloes again, and perhaps even get hold of some quinces to make liquer with, and elderflowers to make Champagne!