Vodkas infused with a wide variety of vibrant, exciting flavors have been around almost as long as vodka itself. Each year seems to introduce new flavors and preferences among consumers.
At least 115 different flavored vodkas are sold in the United States, according to the U.S.”s Distilled Spirits Council. These infused vodkas account for roughly 12 percent of vodka sales in the U.S.
Types of Infused Vodkas
A rise in the “cocktail culture” has led to increased popularity of flavored spirits and premium brands, especially for vodka. Continued growth in the vodka category encourages the introduction of more flavored options. Similarly, flavored vodka”s persisting popularity has led to many popular name brand flavored vodkas, including Smirnoff flavored vodka and flavored Grey Goose vodka.
Citrus vodkas, such as lemon and orange, are among the most popular flavors. Other flavored vodka favorites include:
Vodka can be infused with nearly anything. In fact, while recipes exist for bacon-flavored vodka, for centuries, Russian and Polish vodka makers have added ginger, cloves and other spices to vodka (this combination yields “hunters vodka” or okhotnichya).
List of Russian Flavored Vodka
Originally, flavors were added to vodkas to cover up the harsh taste of some crude, early vodkas. Later, a flavor infusion indicated the distillers skill. Today, dozens of flavors exist, especially among Russian vodkas. In Russian, some of the most popular include:
- kubanskaya: vodka infused with dried lemon and orange peels
- limonnaya: vodka flavored with lemon and a dash of sugar
- okhotnichya: vodka flavored with ginger, cloves, lemon peel, coffee, anise and other herbs. A touch of sugar and wine is then added.
- pertsovka: vodka infused with black peppercorns and red chili peppers
- starka: vodka flavored with anything from fruit tree leaves to brandy and dried fruit. This is an older type of flavored vodka that stems from the earliest centuries of vodka-making.
- zubrovka: This vodka is infused with an aromatic grass called buffalo or bison grass.
How to Make Flavored Vodka
Learning how to make flavored vodka is quite simple and allows for creativity. Of all alcohols, vodka serves as one of the best for flavor infusions because its neutral nature easily carries the flavors with which it”s infused.
Because your final product will only be as good as the ingredients you use, start with a moderate to high quality vodka as a base for your flavored vodka recipe. Although low-quality vodkas may hold flavor, they won”t be as smooth or tasty as premium brands. Keep in mind, however, that top-shelf vodkas are best enjoyed on their own. A good rule of thumb is to simply choose a middle-of-the-road vodka that you would also enjoy straight.
To get started, choose the flavor you want to make. Common choices include:
Vegetables and spices (such as mint, ginger and lavender) can also be used for infusion. The key is freshness you will get the best flavor with fresh ingredients, not frozen or canned varieties.
Also, for this process, you will need a sealable container. A true infusion jar will have a spigot at the bottom and a secure lid, however most commercial sun tea containers will also work well.
To make flavored vodkas, follow these steps:
- Cut the produce so that the flesh is exposed. Dont puree it, just cut it into chunks.
- Remove any rind, seeds or pits. If you use a citrus fruit, keep and use the zest.
- In a sealable container, add vodka to the cut produce. The ingredients should be covered by the vodka, if not completely submerged.
- Cover the container tightly and store it in a cool, dark, dry place.
- Shake the container gently every couple of days.
The ingredients you use to infuse vodka with flavor need one to two weeks to flavor the vodka appropriately. Ingredients, such as almonds, that are dense or have subtle flavors may require more time to impart their flavor.
The final step is straining the infused vodka into clean bottles through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. Coffee filters also work well. Once this mixture is strained, the infused vodka can sometimes taste better after some aging, usually two to four weeks.
Infused vodkas make a nice gift, especially when you reveal that the infusion is homemade. If you give infused vodkas as a gift, a nice bottle can really complement it. Bottles with cork stoppers can be ordered online at low cost, and dont forget to label them!
How to Make Bacon Flavored Vodka
Anyone interested in bacon-flavored vodka can try this recipe.
- 3 strips of bacon
- handful of peppercorns (optional)
- unflavored, quality vodka.
- Fry the three strips of bacon.
- Add the cooked bacon to a clean container, trimming the ends of the bacon strips if they are too long to fit.
- Add crushed peppercorns, if you wish.
- Fill the container with vodka, cover and place in a cool, dark place. Refrigeration is unnecessary.
- After three weeks, put the mixture in a freezer so the fat congeals.
- Strain the fat through a coffee filter.
For more adventurous tasters, try using a New Zealand honey vodka (made from honey and the nectar of the native manuka tree) or Zubrowka (vodka flavored by an herbal grass preferred by grazing bison).
Flavored Vodka Recipes
Because of the addition of flavor, more and more people are drinking flavored vodkas straight. For those who find even flavored-vodkas too strong, lemon-lime sodas make for a nice mixer, especially citrus vodka.
Similarly, flavored vodkas can add a nice kick to many traditional vodka cocktails. Here are some popular and tasty flavored vodka drink recipes.
- 1 oz. vanilla vodka
- 1 oz. orange vodka (or other citrus vodka)
- soda water, to taste.
- Pour the flavored vodkas into a rocks glass filled with ice.
- Add soda water to taste.
For variety, you can also add a splash of fruit juice to this recipe. Orange, pineapple and cranberry juices will all add a tasty twist to this creamsicle recipe.
- 1 oz. raspberry vodka
- 1 oz. orange vodka
- 1 oz. regular vodka
- 2 oz. lemon-lime soda.
Pour all ingredients (in the order listed above) into a rocks glass filled with ice and enjoy!
- 2 oz. citrus vodka
- 3/4 oz. lemon juice
- 1/4 oz. pomegranate juice
- splash of lemon-lime soda.
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add all ingredients.
- Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.
- 1 ? oz. strawberry vodka
- 1 ? oz. triple sec
- 1 oz. cranberry juice
- cherry for garnish.
- In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all ingredients (except the cherry).
- Shake and strain into a chilled martini glass.
- Garnish with a cherry, if desired.