Sneak preview

Here are four infusions I got started last night:

Infusions, photo by Michael Paydos

From left to right: 2 quarts of orange infused vodka, 1 quart grapefruit infused vodka, 3 cups intensely sour crabapple infused vodka, and lastly 3 cups of cantaloup infused vodka. The latter two will have posts in the future. Both the previous follow the basic recipe I used last time. I got a bag of organic valencia oranges the other day, mostly so I could have some amazing fresh squeezed juice. Valencias tend to have very thin skin that doesn’t peel well, requiring a zester to do the job well. Grapefruit fortunately peels quite well.

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Hazelnut infused vodka

Hazelnuts. Photo by Michael Paydos,

Frangelico is yet another popular liqueur that I love in theory, but always have trouble with how sweet it is. Hazelnuts are sweet enough on their own thanks. Thankfully, infusology gives us an alternative.

Step 1: Get some hazelnuts

Hazelnuts. Photo by Michael Paydos,

Trader Joes sells them for a very reasonable price. We only need 1 cup for this infusion (unless you double up) but thankfully hazelnuts freeze well in an air-tight container. Look for the freshest hazelnuts you can, and steer clear of pre-chopped varieties. Like spices, the more processed the product is the more essential oils escape–that’s where the flavor is.

Step 2: Smash some hazelnuts

Smashed hazelnuts. Photo by Michael Paydos,

In my almond infusion, I recommended a light chop chop using a food processor or blender. However, hazelnuts are softer and oilier, which makes them mush well. This has two advantages: you squeeze out more of the essential oils, enhancing and accelerating the infusing process, and smashing keeps the pieces larges, which prevents nut-sludge that becomes next to impossible to strain out. My preferred method is to take 5-15 nuts and place them between two cutting boards. A cast iron skillet also works, but mine are never clean enough to even consider such applications.

Step 3: Add smush to jar

This is what 1 cup of smashed hazelnuts look like in a 1 quart jar. You can also add a half a vanilla bean and even an inch or so of cinnamon stick if you want.

Step 4: Infuse it!

For 1 cup of hazelnuts, add 3 cups of vodka. Shake the jar well and store in a cool, dark place for at least a month. Like the almond infusion, more time would be even better. During the process, give it a shake whenever you think about it, at least once a week is great.

Step 5: When ready, strain and en-joy

This is just after 5 weeks–a rich, dark infusion. To strain, follow the same instructions from the almond infusion and you’ll be fine–using the smashing process, this is quite a bit easier. I simply used coffee filters (replacing it twice when the straining slowed down).

I haven’t experimented thoroughly with the results just yet. Any frangelico-based drink should be great with this (though much less sweet so add some simple syrup to your preference). I’ll report on my adventures soon, but feel free to share some ideas!


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Herbal adventures

Herb pot. Photo by Michael Paydos,

The photo is from the end of June. The neat truth about herbs–most are essentially weeds. Just now 2 weeks later and I have about triple the volume. What we’ve got a brewin’:

  • Basil
  • Thai basil
  • Mint
  • Chive
  • Parsley
  • Cilantro
  • Rosemary
  • Dill

In another pot I have spearmint, thyme, & oregano.

The trick to crowding herbs together to get a lush overgrown pot is to be sure you have a good 18″ of loosened soil. The lets roots grow down down down. It also pays to use a quality potting mix (or good soil mixed with a good amount of compost). Other than that, give them a sunny spot and make sure they get watered every 2-3 days and nature will take its course.

Coming up this week

A month ago I started some hazelnut infused vodka, which is just about ready. We’ve also run out of most of our citrus infusions, so a trip to the organic market in the near future.

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Strawberry Gin-Gin

When the berries turn white, you're done! Photo by Michael Paydos,, 2011

When the berries turn white, you're done!

Just the other day I posted about getting some strawberry gin started. After a few days, one shake a day in, and some time for everything to settle, this puppy was ready to go.

As the pic shows, the berries will turn ghost white (this is also true when using fresh strawberries). Letting the thing settle, especially when using freeze-dried strawberries, is key. The berrydust clogs coffee filters like nobody’s business. First, I strained the whole thing through a metal strainer, using a wooden spoon to squeeze as much nectar out as possible. Then, after giving it an hour to settle, I used a coffee filter to get it nice and clarified. This last step is optional, but makes for a very pretty end result.

Going the freeze-dried route maintains full potency with a much fresher flavor than dried berries. This means you can use this slightly sweetened, tart and fruity gin in a number of mixes.


  • On the rocks, neat, or straight up
  • In a sweet martini, gimlet, Alabama slammer, gin fizz, rickey, or tom collins
  • With soda water, tonic, ginger ale, or Sprite
  • With orange, cranberry, grapefruit, or apple juice
Strawberry Gin-Gin. Photo by Michael Paydos,, 2011

Strawberry Gin-Gin(ger)

Strawberry Gin-Gin

Fill a rocks glass with ice. In order, add gin, vodka, and top with soda water. Garnish with mint. You can also muddle a small bit of ginger in the bottom of the glass if you don’t have the vodka on hand.

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Infusing flowers

Many flowers are amazingly tasty (some are also amazingly poisonous, so be careful what you might experiment with). I recently posted a nice infusion using the lowly dandelion. Now that I have my own yard space and great sunny windows, I plan on growing fresh, organic (or semi-organic) infusion ingredients. I’ll post about what I have already done, with some tips, in a future post. What I didn’t have time for was to plant any seeds (moved in too late). However, this feature on Epicurious has provided some amazing inspiration for next year. Turns out, I have 3 of them already planted so we’ll have a go when the time is right.

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Strawberry gin? We’ll soon find out!

Freeze Dried Strawberries. Photo by Michael Paydos,

Freeze Dried Supertasties

Last week I picked up a bag of freeze dried strawberries. Pretty much once a day since, I’ve been tempted to crack it open as a snack. However, this is supposed to be booze-bound loot.

Some time ago I posted how to make strawberry infused vodka using freeze dried strawberries. Today, I whipped up such a batch (2.5 cups of vodka worth). However, I also felt like trying something new. I also also have too much gin on hand. Will fate grant us joy?

The set up.

I didn’t try anything fancy, simply replaced the vodka with gin and will follow the same instructions. Will update everyone on the results later this week! I’m thinking Strawberry Gin & Tonics, and Strawberry Gin Lemonades are in my sunny pool-side future.

The gin is to ze left

The gin is to ze left

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Dandelion Infused Vodka

Back to business! This last month has been intense, but exciting. We are in a new house! AND, this first infusion from the house involves one of our first yard tasks: removing some weeds.

First, be absolutely sure no pesticides are used on the lawn (these ones are particularly nasty since they don’t wash off as readily). Dandelion leaves are rather tasty when properly cultivated and are a high source of vitamin C. They are also mad bitter. The base part of the flower is even more intensely so, which means we need to take care to remove them entirely. Also, the flowers wilt and brown quickly, so we must be swift—the entire process from pickin’ to picklin’ should take no more than an hour or two. If that’s not enough of a pain in the ass, the final infusion is best if consumed within a week as the flavor quickly breaks down.


  • Vodka
  • Dandelions, freshly picked
  • Distilled water


  • Add about 1” worth of vodka to a glass jar and seal it loosely.
  • Pop the flowers off the stems and rinse in distilled water. Lightly pat dry (leaving a little dampness is OK).
  • With a paring knife, remove the entire green base from the flower and immediately put the flower into the vodka, swirl, and reseal. Repeat for the rest of the flowers (once you get a good knack, it’s OK to cut five or so at a time before adding to the vodka). If the # of flowers piles up higher than the vodka, add more until covers as you go along.
  • Give the jar a look, the dandelions will clump together and form a layer. That layer should be about a third the overall height (the other two thirds vodka). Add more vodka if needed.
  • Store in a cool, dark place for 3 to 5 days.
  • Pour through a metal strainer and refrigerate. Best if consumed within a week.

Tip: This would probably also be tasty using gin–give it a try and let me know!


  • Neat
  • In a martini, dirty martini, kamikaze, or bloody mary
  • With soda water or tonic

Fine & dandy

  •          1 oz dandelion infused vodka
  •          .5 oz pomegranate syrup (or grenadine)
  •          champange

Add vodka to a champagne flute then nearly fill with champagne. Top off with grenadine.

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