Tag Archives: Skyy Vodka

Spring Infusions 2014: Basil-Infused Limoncello

I love lemonade. Especially when its lemonade infused with herbs, namely basil, tarragon, or rosemary. This is actually quite easy. You simply make lemonade as you normally would but instead of using plain simple syrup you add herb-infused simple syrup. Pretty simple really. So, working off that idea, I thought, “Why not make a limoncello infused with basil?” So, with this idea in mind I set off to make what should be my all-time favorite Spring sipping beverage.

Basil-Infused Limoncello:

  • 1x 750 ml bottle of Skyy Vodka
  • 1x 32 oz mason jar
  • 5 organic lemons
  • 1x vegetable peeler
  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • 8-10 leaves of organic basil

Using a vegetable peeler, carefully remove the peels from the lemon without removing any of the white pith, which will impart a very bitter, astringent flavor to your infusion (Picture 1). Place lemon peels into the 32 oz mason jar, fill with vodka, and infuse for 1-4 weeks (or until desired lemon flavor is reached). After desired lemon flavor has been reached, strain and filter the infusion into a clean bottle and set aside. Now its time to make the basil-infused simple syrup! In a small pot, add 1/2 cup of sugar to at least 1/2 cup of water and mix over medium-high heat until all the sugar has dissolved. At this point, add the basil leaves and stir until all leaves have been covered with the syrup (Picture 2). Remove from heat and let stand for at least 30 minutes (or until desired basil flavor has been reached). After which strain the simple syrup into a large bottle containing the lemon infusion (Picture 3, 4) and vigorously shake for 10 seconds. This will help distribute the syrup mixture into the infusion. Let the mixture rest for 1 week in a cool, dark place before tasting. The end result (Picture 5) will be 30% abv and an absolute delight to sip on any Spring day!

Use a peeler to carefully remove the lemon peels.

Use a peeler to carefully remove the lemon peels.

Basil infusing into the simple syrup before being taken off the stove.

Basil infusing into the simple syrup before being taken off the stove.

Strain the simple syrup then add to the lemon infusion.

Strain the simple syrup then add to the lemon infusion.

Pouring the syrup into the lemon infusion.

Pouring the syrup into the lemon infusion.

Look at that beautiful bottle of limoncello!

Look at that beautiful bottle of limoncello!

UPDATE: 2 JUNE 2014

I tasted the limoncello and was disappointed in the flavor profile. It tastes strongly of lemon (as it should) but there is no presence of basil at all! This means that I either used poor quality basil leaves (I got them from a local supermarket) or that infusing them into the simple syrup just doesn’t work for the flavor strength I need. The next time I attempt this recipe, I will infuse the basil directly into the lemon infusion before adding the simple syrup, and remove the basil once it is to my tastes. As for the simple syrup amount, this version of limoncello is lightly sweet, but could use a bit more sweetness to be similar to the more traditional limoncellos which toe the line of sweet-but-not-too-sweet. However, this could also be due to mouthfeel and a glycerin addition may round out the body and provide the mouthfeel that I want.

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Spring Infusions 2014: Chocolate Delights

I’ve been a bit busy these past few weeks and haven’t had time to update my blog. Now that the semester has ended I finally have more time to devote to creating infusions. This blog will cover the progress of my chocolate experiments whereas the others in this series will serve to document other Spring-only infusions such as culinary-herb liqueurs and a variety of fruit infusions. For those people more interested in the latter styles, stay tuned!

 

Single-source chocolate shells. They smell incredible!

 

Last weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Olive and Sinclair, a local Nashville chocolatier where, after talking with one of the sales staff, I managed to get 2 lbs of single-source chocolate shells, with an open-door policy to get more as needed! I’m excited for two reasons: 1) I can now use the shells to impart a chocolate character to my 10 month old Cherry Schnapps and 2) I can can now make a variety of chocolate liqueurs!

Chocolate Cherry Schnapps (PGA):

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures for this infusion process but, don’t fret, its very, very easy! In fact, all you’ll need is the following:

  • 1x 1.75L bottle of Everclear or your preferred PGA
  • 1x large jar (I use a large pickle jar)
  • 1-3 lbs of Bing cherries, washed and de-stemmed
  • 1/2 cup of high quality chocolate shells
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1 cup simple syrup

Fill the jar 2/3 of the way full with the cherries, fill with Everclear and infuse for 3 months in a cool, dark location such as a closet. After 3 months, strain the infusion, then add the chocolate shells and infuse for 24 hours (or until desired chocolate flavor is reached).  Strain and filter the infusion then add the filtered water and simple syrup. Let the infusion sit for 1 week before sampling. This process should give you a roughly 35-40% ABV infusion and each additional cup of filtered water or simple syrup will drop the ABV by 3.5%. This infusion will throw sediment and if you would prefer a clear product, I would recommend using a small auto-siphon to prevent the transfer of sediment into the end container.

NOTE: Everclear and other PGA products tend to be very harsh tasting even when infused due to lack of filtering during distillation. This may differ from brand to brand but if you can look past the “heat” of the PGA the flavor is quite nice. This is likely tempered with additional simple syrup/filtered water. If you would prefer a less “hot” product, I would recommend the following recipe below.

Chocolate Cherry Schnapps (Vodka):

  • 1x 1.75L bottle of Skyy vodka
  • 1x large jar (I use a large pickle jar)
  • 1-3 lbs of Bing cherries, washed and de-stemmed
  • 1/2 cup of high quality chocolate shells
  • 1 cup simple syrup or filtered water (optional)

Fill the jar 2/3 of the way full with the cherries, fill with vodka and infuse for 1-3 month in a cool, dark location such as a closet. After 1-3 months, strain the infusion, then add the chocolate shells and infuse for 24 hours (or until desired chocolate flavor is reached).  Strain and filter the infusion then add the simple syrup/filtered water. Let the infusion sit for 1 week before sampling. This process should give you a roughly 20-25% ABV infusion, depending on whether you add simple syrup or water, and each additional cup of syrup/water will drop the ABV by 2.4%. This infusion will throw sediment and if you would prefer a clear product, I would recommend using a small auto-siphon to prevent the transfer of sediment into the end container.

NOTE: I prefer this recipe since it tends to produce quite clean flavors of both the chocolate and cherries without any burn from the alcohol.

Chocolate Schnapps:

  • 1x 750ml bottle of Skyy vodka
  • 1x 32oz ball jar
  • 1/3 cup of chocolate shells
  • 1 cup simple syrup (optional)

Fill the jar with vodka, add the chocolate shells and infuse for 1-5 days in a cool, dark location such as a closet. Strain and filter the infusion then add the simple syrup. Let the infusion sit for 1 week before sampling. This process should give you a roughly 30-40% ABV infusion, depending on whether you add simple syrup. This infusion will throw sediment and if you would prefer a clear product, I would recommend using a small auto-siphon to prevent the transfer of sediment into the end container.

NOTE: This recipe is a work in progress and is subject to change in the coming days/weeks as I make tasting notes. Additions like nutmeg, clove, vanilla and other spices, will intensify the chocolate flavor and add complexity to the flavor profile. Orange zest would also make a great addition.

Drinkable Hot Toddy (sort of)

Photo Jan 20, 14 28 28

A week ago on that day-of-days known as MLK, I decided to make a drinkable hot toddy to combat the bout of cold that had overcome me. A bit of lemon, a bit of ginger, my go to Bourbon, and a jar were all that was necessary, oh and time, lots of time, like a week’s worth, before I could sample my infusion.

Well, that week’s worth of time has arrived and today I gave it a taste: not too bad, ginger presence is minimal, but the lemon presence is noticeable, especially on the finish. This is important since this infusion is meant to be a Potent, with a capital “P,” addition to a honey-tea to make that fabled panacea known as a “Hot Toddy.” This “lemony” characteristic had reached desired potency so it was necessary to remove the lemon pieces from the infusion.

Using a mesh sieve, I strained the liquid into another jar and removed the lemon pieces. After which, I  returned the ginger pieces to the jar to continue the infusing process for 3 more weeks. It will be necessary to make weekly tastings to track the ginger’s progress into the Bourbon and I will update this post accordingly!

Cheers!

Brett

UPDATE: 3 February 2014

Today I tasted my infusion to check the progress of the ginger and the result was lackluster. I can’t really make out much ginger presence within that tight bourbon “jacket.” As a proxy, I also infused a vodka-lemon-ginger version of this and when I tasted this, I did notice a small bit of ginger presenting itself in the neutral spirit. Granted, after 1 week, the strength of the lemon flavoring is quite high, almost like a limoncello but without the high sugar content. This small ginger presentation gives me hope that in another week or two I will have the desired flavor profile I had envisioned at the start of this endeavor.

UPDATE: 17 February 2014

Today I filtered and strained both the whiskey infusion and its clear analog, the vodka-lemon-ginger infusion. Unfortunately, the taste profile of the whiskey infusion is not as balanced as I would’ve hoped: Lemon immediately presents, with bright flavors, with bourbon rounding out the mid-palate with a slightly astringent ginger finish. Ginger intensity is not as I hoped and may improve with aging. A simple syrup and glycerin addition could mask the astringency and round out the flavor profile as could the additional infusion of nutmeg, clove, and other spices. The vodka infusion actually tastes decent, without too strong an astringent presence from the ginger but a delightfully bright, almost limoncello-esque lemon flavor. The addition of simple syrup and glycerin would round out the flavor profile.

All in all this wasn’t a bad first attempt at a drinkable hot toddy and this recipe will improve with time.

UPDATE: 17 May 2014

The bourbon infusion has remained sitting in my closet for months, gathering dust, and I’ve had great difficulty figuring out what to do with it. With my recent acquisition of chocolate shells  I decided to try another infusion, hoping that the shells would round out the ginger-lemon presentation on the finish. I added 1/4 cup of the shells and let them infuse for 12 hours. After straining/filtering I gave it a taste and was pleasantly surprised by a more rounded body, however the finish is still lacking. On my next attempt at this liqueur I’ll let the chocolate shells infuse until the finish has chocolate on the front end with a light, lemon-ginger presentation on the back end.