Category Archives: Infusions

Just in Thyme: A Simple Syrup

I don’t usually post syrup style recipes on here but, due to a request for the thyme syrup used in my previous post, I thought I’d make an exception.

This is one of the more fragrant syrups out there and you need to be careful how much thyme you use. the best thing to do is to start with 2 sprigs and add more if you want more flavour…

thyme syrup

Fresh Thyme Simple Syrup

500g Sugar

500ml Water

2-5 sprigs Fresh Thyme

Method:

  • Stir water and sugar together in a non-stick saucepan over a low heat until the sugar dissolves.
  • Let simmer for 2 minutes – DO NOT boil.
  • Gently rub the thyme with your hands as you drop it into the syrup.
  • Once the thyme is added, remove pan from the heat.
  • Let steep for 10 minutes.
  • Strain into a sterilised jar with a fine strain.
  • Store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
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Pineapple Vodka, With Extra Toppings…

The final of my 3 Vodka infusions; this sweet and tropical infusion will be perfect for those with a sweet tooth and a penchant for the tang of a fresh pineapple (like me).

It is a relatively versatile infusion that works best in tropical cocktails but also finds its place in the more ‘traditional’ recipes. Think along the lines of a Tropical Martini or Tangy Screwdriver…

Check out the infusion recipe below and then enjoy the tropical combination of your new Pineapple Vodka and a cocktail whose origin story was set in Brazil; The Very Tropical Caipiroska.

Pineapple Infused Vodka

Recipe:

1 whole (medium) pineapple, sliced/diced

70cl (700ml) Vodka

50 grams Sugar

Method:

  • Add all of the ingredients to a sterilised & tight sealing bottle.
  • Leave to sit for up to 48hrs.
  • Strain into the original vodka bottle and seal it.
  • Keep in a cool dry place away from sunlight, or in the fridge/freezer if you want it served chilled…

This infusion is extremely fresh and does not hide its tropical pineapple flavour! This vodka is a wonderful inclusion in any cocktail you want to perk up with a tropical hit. Try it in your next vodka base tropical drink or as an addition to your next Pina Colada!

Cocktail: Very Tropical Caipiroska

pineapple caipiroska 1

Recipe:

50ml Pineapple Infused Vodka

1 Lime

2 teaspoons Sugar*

Garnish: Pineapple leaf & speared fruit.

Method:

  • Add the sugar into a rocks glass.
  • Cut the lime into quarters and then squeeze and drop each piece into the glass skin up.
  • Very gently muddle the lime and sugar together until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Once the sugar has dissolved, fill the glass with crushed ice.
  • Add in your infused vodka, cover with a napkin and swizzle.
  • Top up with more crushed ice and then garnish.
  • Serve with a straw…

*the type of sugar determines the amount of muddling. Whilst using a sugar cube looks good, it also requires a lot more work. Use some granulated sugar, or better yet go for caster sugar!

This cocktail is based on the classic Caipirinha from Brazil and was huge during the last world cup [Brazil 2014]. During the 4 weeks that Fifa’s biggest tournament ran, there were more variations on the Caipirinha than one could shake a proverbial stick at. Whilst the Caipiroska was already well-liked before the WC, it did benefit a great deal from the exposure of its parent during the football tournament…

Caipirinha ingredients
A Caipirinha is a simple 3 ingredient drink: Cachaca, Lime & Sugar…

With citrus flavours galore and vast amounts of other tropical flavours a-plenty, the Caipi family of cocktails have gone from strength to strength. There are so many different varieties of this drink that it was only a matter of time before infused spirits/liqueurs made their way into the recipes!

This pineapple vodka based version is fruitier and lighter than a normal Caipiroska (the infusion process takes some of the alcohol burn away.

Fervent Shaker Top Tip: This cocktail is fantastic short and iced. But if you’re after something a little longer (and lighter) then why not make this in a tall Collins glass? You’ll have to prepare it in a rocks glass before adding it to the larger glass. You should pour the ingredients (once muddled) into a Collins glass, add the ice, then the alcohol. Before adding more crushed ice, add in some fruit juice – in this instance a splash of Pineapple & Mango would be fantastic! – Then top up with the ice.

Cranberry-Lime Vodka & A tweaked out Vesper…

Over the next 3 weeks I’ll be sharing with you 3 infused vodka recipes, and ending each post with a cocktail recipe that shows the infusion off in all its glory. So sit back, get your notepads ready and enjoy the next week of vodka infusions!!!

n.b. These cocktails may or may not be my own recipes, although mostly they will be tweaks of other cocktails. 

Let’s jump straight into the action with this simple, yet rather versatile Vodka Infusion:

The first recipe is for a Cranberry-lime Vodka that really does feel at home in any home bar. With various cocktails using vodka and the 2 infusing ingredients; this infusion will add a depth of flavour to every cocktail you use it in!

Cranberry-Lime vodka

70cl (700ml) Bottle of high quality Vodka

1 lime

100g of cranberries

2 tbsp Sugar

Method:

  • Peel the rind off the lime and set aside the lime itself (you only need the peel).
  • Poke a hole in each cranberry (a fork works well here).
  • Add both the cranberries and lime peel into a large, sealed glass bottle.
  • Add in the sugar and the pour in the vodka.
  • Seal the bottle and store away from sunlight for up to 7 days.
  • After 7 days the colour of the vodka will have changed to a red hue. Leave the fruit in the vodka and enjoy chilled…

This vodka is extremely simple to make. Like most infusions the worst part is simply waiting to try it! The cranberry-lime flavour combination is not a new concept, but it is a great concept. This particular recipe will result in an extra fruity kick in your cocktails, especially a home made cosmopolitan. My preferred cocktail for this vodka however, is a tweak on the classic Vesper Martini:

Cranberry-Lime Vesper

cranberry lime vesper

3 measures Beefeater Gin

1 measure Cranberry-Lime Infused Vodka

½ measure Lillet Blanc

Garnish: Lime Twist

Method:

  • Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and add plenty of cubed ice.
  • Stir well and chill the alcohol properly – anything up to 2 minutes here is totally acceptable!
  • Strain into a well-chilled coupe/classic martini-cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with a long thin slice of lemon peel…

This cocktail is based on the famous Bond cocktail: The Vesper. It uses the same ratios as the classic cocktail and makes use of the infused vodka in a cocktail where it won’t over power the other ingredients, but equally stands on its own. This cocktail is the perfect canvas for it to splash its colourful flavour upon. However, I know everyone has different tastes so if this cocktail does not have enough of a fruity kick, then try adding a splash of cranberry juice. This will of course water down the drink so try not to add too much!

Naturally this cocktail will not suit everyone’s taste buds so if you’re one of those who like a more refreshing cocktail then why not try using this infused vodka in any of the following cocktails:

Sea Breeze,

Cosmopolitan,

Spiked Spiced Ciders,

Cape Cod,

Sex on the Beach,

And many more!

The Nova Scotia Sipper; an original cocktail by the Fervent Shaker…

This months’ theme, as you may already be aware, is all about Infusions! That includes alcohol and sugar syrup infusions and in some cases both! This post, a post that precedes my week of infused vodka, is all about a sugar syrup recipe and the fresh new cocktail I created with it! I’m sharing both the recipe for the syrup and the cocktail and hope that at least a few of you try them both out and enjoy the drink! So, without further ado, here is my Blueberry Maple Syrup and my very own original cocktail: The Nova Scotia Sipper!

Blueberry Maple Syrup

This syrup is perfect for deserts and can be used in cooking as well! Experiment why don't you!
This syrup is perfect for deserts and can be used in cooking as well! Experiment why don’t you!

200 grams Blueberries

230 ml Maple Syrup

Method:

  • Combine the ingredients in a saucepan over a medium heat.
  • Simmer until the blueberries soften and begin to burst.
  • At this point, gently mash the blueberries (not too much) and allow to simmer on a low heat for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from the heat and strain out the solids. Discard them.
  • If using this recipe for desserts you can mix in another 200grams of fresh blueberries and make a glorious syrup for you pancakes…

Cocktail: Nova Scotia Sipper

A great, refreshing long drink that has a wealth of fantastic flavours!
A great, refreshing long drink that has a wealth of fantastic flavours!

Recipe:

25ml Plantation 3 star white rum

12.5ml Blueberry-maple syrup

7.5ml Pernod

5ml Lime Juice

50ml Apple & Passionfruit Juice

3-5 blueberries

Garnish: Skewered Lime twist & Blueberries*

Method:

  • Muddle the blueberries with the rum in a Boston cocktail shaker.
  • Fill with ice.
  • Add the other ingredients, top up with ice if needed.
  • Shake well, for around 15 seconds, or until the tin ices over.
  • Strain into a sling glass full to the brim with crushed ice.
  • Garnish & serve with 2 straws…

*this is my preferred garnish, although like the picture shows you can garnish it however you like, it’s all about the theatre for this cocktail…

So there you have one of the nicest cocktails i’ve ever made! It does have a slight twist to the flavour profile, thanks to the anise fro the Pernod, but used in such a small amount it merely coats the drink and the other flavours still make their presence known! Hope you all enjoy the recipe, feel free to tweak it if needed and please do let me know what you think! Until next time!!!

Sweet, Sweet Infusions: Sugar and its Syrup!

One of the infusion types I mentioned in my introduction post was that of sugar syrup infusing.

Every bartender will tell you that sugar syrup is an essential part of their arsenal and that a well-prepared syrup has the potential to raise a cocktail above the realms of normality.

Below you will find the recipes for 4 very different sugar syrup infusions, including a special spicy concoction that is perfect for those heat lovers out there!

Disclaimer: although usually I’d offer up a complimentary cocktail recipe for each of these syrups, to make the post less cluttered I’ve simply stated the spirit(s) they pair with the best!

#1 Rhubarb Simple Syrup

A stunning red hue, this rhubarb syrup is perfect for adding a little colour to your cocktails...
A stunning red hue, this rhubarb syrup is perfect for adding a little colour to your cocktails…

Ingredients:

400 grams fresh Rhubarb

100 grams sugar

100ml water

Method:

  • Add ingredients to a small saucepan and bring to the boil on a medium heat. Stirring consistently.
  • Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Turn heat down to low and simmer.
  • The rhubarb will begin to soften around 5/6 minutes in (this is normal so don’t panic!)
  • Allow mixture to thicken a little (around 2-5 minutes) and then remove from heat.
  • Strain* mixture into a sterile container and allow to cool.
  • Seal and keep refrigerated.

*when straining gently press the fruit pieces to gain a little more juice (flavour) but be careful not to press to hard as it will make your syrup go cloudy!

This is the most versatile of the 4 recipes and works brilliantly with vodka or gin. It is particularly good in a bramble (in place of the blackberry liqueur!) and also pairs well with light mixers or those non-drinkers out there! – Homemade Rhubarb Lemonade anyone?

#2 Honey & Rosemary Sugar Syrup

Infusing honey with rosemary is a quick way to make this syrup. Although it tastes better with the cooked method...
Infusing honey with rosemary is a quick way to make this syrup. Although it tastes better with the cooked method…

Ingredients:

2-3 Rosemary Sprigs

100ml Honey

50ml water

Method:

  • Mix the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil – on a medium heat.
  • Once boiling reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 2 minutes.
  • Turn off heat after 2 minutes and leave to cool (covered).
  • Strain out rosemary ad store in a sterile container.

Once this item is cooled seal it and keep it refrigerated. It should keep for up to 4 weeks (although if it looks spoiled at any point please don’t risk it – bin it and make some more!)

This particular syrup is a little more to taste and less sweet than the blueberry syrup but that just means it’s that perfect herbal addition to your favourite Whisky/Bourbon cocktail. It also mixes well with more savoury vodka and gin cocktails and does make a mean G&T.

#3 Cucumber & Mint Simple Syrup

Cucumber & mint - Perfect in your next G&T
Cucumber & mint – Perfect in your next G&T

Ingredients:

100 grams Sugar

100ml Water

½ Cucumber (Diced)

10 leaves fresh Mint

Method:

  • Combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  • When the sugar has dissolved turn the heat off and allow to cool.
  • Once cooled add in the cucumber and mint. Leave in for at least 1hr but for a more concentrated flavour leave it in for longer (Keep refrigerated at all times).
  • Strain away the cucumber and mint and store accordingly.

This syrup has an odd aftertaste but is still a great tasting mix regardless. It mixes well with Gin and Vodka (as you’d expect) but also makes a great twist on the classic mojito – blending well with White rum.

#4 Spicy Jalapeno Simple Syrup

The striking green colour is what gives this syrup its WOW factor...
The striking green colour is what gives this syrup its WOW factor…

Ingredients:

100 grams sugar

100ml water

1 Jalapeno (sliced lengthways)

Method:

  • Simmer the water and sugar, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
  • Take of the heat once the sugar has dissolved and cover to cool.
  • Once cooled add the Jalapeno slices and leave for at least 1hr*.
  • After the infusion time has passed, sieve out the jalapeno and store in a sealed container in the fridge.

*as with the cucumber and mint recipe, the longer the jalapeno is in the syrup the more concentrated the flavour profile (and heat). You might want to try creating several different concentrations of this mixture and making a note of which is which – this way you can cater for different palates…

Whilst this mixture blends well with vodka (and surprisingly gin) it is best kept for the most obvious choice: Tequila. Try adding a little bit of this to your next shot of quality tequila. Try with Habanero’s or Cazadores Tequila should you have either in your possession…

So there you go! 4 rather brilliant, and yet rather different simple syrup recipes. They’re all a perfect with their own particular spirit(s) but all have room for a little versatility.

I hope you enjoy them, and if any are not quite to your tastes, feel free to tweak them. That’s the best way to improve them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on these recipes if you try them, especially any cocktails you find them to particularly effective in…

Infusions: An Introduction…

A little of this and a little of that…

Alcohol can be infused with almost anything! Does anyone else feel some experimentation coming on?
Alcohol can be infused with almost anything! Does anyone else feel some experimentation coming on?

Whether you’re aware of it or not, if you’re an avid fan of cocktails then the chance are you’ve probably consumed an infused alcohol or sugar syrup at least once…

DON’T PANIC! This is not the end of the world, in fact it means you’ve more than likely consumed a great tasting cocktail!

After all remember that hibiscus Kir Royale you had last new years’ or that blueberry mojito at last years’ summer fete? Well drinks like these, more often than not, make use of infused alcohols or sugar syrups!

So as you probably guessed it, the next theme for this blog is Infusion! Whether it’s a sophisticated spicy vodka or a simple syrup with a touch of fruit there will always be a place in the world of cocktails and mixology for infused ingredients!

Starting with this introduction and ending with 10 of the more ‘odd’ infusion recipes out there, the next two months will showcase some of the best infusion recipes available and all their recipes will be divulged, allowing you to recreate (and/or tweak?) them to your hearts content!

So what exactly is an infusion?

There are three types of infusion recipe that I’ll be covering during the course of this theme:

Alcohol Infusions – Infusion recipes that involve a plain alcohol (like vodka) and result in either a straight up favoured vodka, or a flavoured liqueur (a spirit with a lower abv % than the base vodka)…

Basically this type of infusion is simply adding the chosen ingredients into a base alcohol like vodka and leaving it to steep (or sit) in that spirit for a required amount of time. Eventually the base spirit will draw the flavour profile of those ingredients out and into the liquid. This method can create a range of fantastic ingredients from complicated spicy vodkas to fun and colourful candy flavours!

Sugar Syrup Infusions – infusion recipes that involve the addition of flavour to a simple 2:1 or 1:1 ratio sugar syrup.

This second infusion type takes less time than the alcohol infusion but the end product does have a significantly shorter life-span. This process generally involves first creating your own (plain) sugar syrup as a base before adding a chosen flavour into the mix and allowing the flavours of the chosen ingredients to cook out and infuse the syrup.

Agua Fresca – Or fresh water. This method of infusing fresh water with fruits and vegetables is favoured in Mexico and was even covered in one of my posts a year or so ago (see here). This method is similar to that of alcohol only you leave the fruit in the water and serve immediately!

Agua Fresca is what the Mexicans call their fruit-infused water... It's delicious!
Agua Fresca is what the Mexicans call their fruit-infused water… It’s delicious!

As a side note: I’ll also be looking at the creation of certain liqueur types, at least a way of re-creating them at home. These include liqueurs like limoncello and triple sec…

Hopefully that should have cleared up the two basic types of infusion I’ll be covering throughout the next 7-8 weeks and with any luck you’ll find some new and amazing recipes for you to try in your next batch!

Thank you for reading this post, it is a mere introductory post but I would dream of leaving you without a recipe you can get practicing with:

Homemade Blueberry Sugar Syrup

100 grams Blueberries (fresh or frozen)

100ml Water

100 grams sugar*

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Optional: 1 tablespoon vodka

The best thing about this blueberry syrup is that if you leave the blueberries in, it makes a fantastic syrup for your pancake breakfast!
The best thing about this blueberry syrup is that if you leave the blueberries in, it makes a fantastic syrup for your pancake breakfast!

Method:

  • Combine the blueberries, water & sugar in a saucepan and heat gently (low heat).
  • Stir often and after the sugar is dissolved (should take about 5-6 minutes) turn the heat up to medium. Continue to stir.
  • Whilst the syrup is boiling gently the blueberries will start to burst and shortly after the mixture should visibly thicken – take the mixture of the heat.
  • Strain the pulp and fruit excess out using a simple strainer. Gently press the fruit to get more juice out of them but do not press to hard as you’ll end up with a cloudy mixture.
  • Leave to cool and once it has cooled: stir in the lemon juice.
  • As an optional step you can also stir in a tablespoon of vodka. This won’t change the flavour profile of the syrup but it will allow it to keep for longer (it should add another 2-3 weeks onto the 4 weeks you get as standard).
  • Once the syrup has cooled and you’ve added in the other ingredients, cover and store in the fridge.

This sweet, fruity syrup has a host of uses, both in drinks and food. Its simple recipe is easy to follow and it acts as a great base recipe for you to tweak and add in other ingredients. This recipe can also be followed for other soft fruits like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, simply use 100 grams of the selected fruit instead of the blueberries. Or a mixture of several to create a summer berry syrup (just don’t go over the 100 gram amount as it will not result in a well-balanced end product.

*in the UK granulated white sugar is our easiest to source ingredient, but you can use demerara sugar or maple syrup to give you a richer, deeper end product. If using maple syrup you need only use 75ml of syrup and 40ml of water – as maple syrup has a higher water content than solid sugar.

So all that leaves me to say is goodbye to the month of Tiki cocktails, and hello to the next 7-8 weeks of glorious infusion related articles and recipes! I’ll even be sure to throw in some great cocktails that make use of an infused ingredient!!!