A Boozy DIY : Infused Liquor

photo by  Vinna Katz

photo by Vinna Katz

I like to have cocktails. I've liked having cocktails since I was 8. Aunt Patty and I would sip Crown Royal straight from the freezer and play illegal slots in the back room of Vera's Lounge.  I was in it for the purple, velvet bag at first because I just KNEW I could fit all my gemstones and Tigers Eyes inside. 



This past Christmas my buddy and I decided to do a DIY gift box filled with homemade goodies sporting trashy labels. It was a big success. We did two infused vodkas and, after countless tastings, I decided to give myself a yummy treat and do MYSELF a bottle.

I found the instructions all kinds of places (its all the same) but here are a few:

• About.com : How To Infuse Spirits

• A Beautiful Mess : Adventures in Infused Vodka

• wikiHow : How to Infuse Vodka with Flavor

I'm not going to reiterate their instructions. 

What I AM going to do is tell you everything not to do. 

These are anti-instructions. 

If you're anything like me you learn from fucking something up.

If you are using berries or anything that absorbs liquid, understand that they will ABSORB liquid. After a week and a half and two bushels of strawberries I had lost maybe 25% of my booze which, clearly, wouldn't do at all.


• First of all - don't buy a handle of Papov and call it fancy-pants. It tastes like cheap vodka with a strawberry in it. I bought a smaller bottle of a mid-quality vodka because something happens as the berries ferment a little that makes it smell even more like potato water and burning.  Personally I have never tried the Brita trick of filtering it 6 times but something about that doesn't seem realistic. If YOU have, let me know the results.

• Don't try to squeeze the vodka out of the berries with a paper towel. You will probably squeeze them straight through it. Not even Brawny can handle it and before you know it you've plopped them right back into the vodka and splashed it in your eyes.  If this happens, take a sip and carry on.

• Maybe you can blend the strawberries and just strain them out?!  BRILLIANT!  That way you don't have to squeeze them in your filthy little paws.  Well it is a great idea until you realize straining vodka filled with berry mush is a fucking mess.  It won't strain through paper towels or coffee filters. Before I knew what had happened my kitchen was covered in booze and I was drunk and eating I Can't Believe It's Not Butter off a makeup brush.


After much frustration I gave up until I figured out how to get my mush out of my vodka.  I put it in a pitcher in the fridge and gave it dirty looks every time I snatched a Coke Zero.

Must Have - Cheesecloth.

You can't find it fucking anywhere but Bed Bath & Beyond.  I looked at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, & Target. I mean I don't know about you all but if I cant find it at Target, I'm straight convinced that shit ain't real-life. BB&B sells one brand of it and it's a strange waxy kind of cloth that doesn't seem to absorb liquid.


I folded it on itself twice and went to town. My mush didn't stand a chance of ending up in my vodka after that. I strained mine twice and rinsed the cloth in between

All the trouble aside I think it's worth it. The vodka is bright pink (enough said) and smells like strawberry jam. If you like giving boozy gifts, give it a whirl. You can also do the same thing in a smaller bottle with a few split vanilla beans and let it sit for a few months to make vanilla extract.

If you've done this or have yummy infusion ideas, well, put a sticky on it and drop me a line. 

I think Gummi Bear is next for me. The kids on the playground all seem to love it.

Drink on, friends. Drink on.