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Infused Vodkas II: Basil, Mango

May 14, 2011

Infusing vodka is one of those rare activities where the result far exceeds the amount of effort put into the task.  The hardest part about infusing vodka is remembering to start the process 1-2 weeks before you want to drink the finished product.  Last year, I tried fig, strawberry-pineapple, and grapefruit infusions.  Then came my beloved pertsovka.  Inspired by the flavors of my recent trip to Austin, I decided to try a batch of mango and basil infused vodkas.

I’m expecting the mango to be a refreshing treat straight from the ice bucket, while the basil vodka will — I hope — add an extra dimension to the strawberry-basil lemonade I’m planning to sip on sultry summer evenings in the new backyard.  Tune in for cocktail recipes in a couple of weeks.

Mango-Infused Vodka

1 very ripe mango

about 1 liter triple-distilled vodka

1 tsp sugar (optional)

Peel the mango.  Taste a little piece of the fruit to make sure the mango is ripe and sweet.  Remember that your infusion will end up tasting like this particular mango.  A teaspoon of sugar will add some sweetness without turning the infusion into a liqueur, but trust your tastebuds on whether or not you need it.  And if your mango tastes under-ripe, no amount of sugar will make it right.  Buy another mango.

Chop up the mango and add the pieces to a clean, wide-mouthed, glass jar big enough to accommodate the vodka and the fruit.  Use a sharp paring knife to “filet” any extra flesh from the peel and add that to the jar, too.  Then, hold the mango pit in your hand and squeeze any extra pulp clinging to the pit into the jar.

Pour in the vodka.  Screw the jar lid on tightly and swirl the mixture to combine.  Store in a cool, dark place for 7-10 days, swirling daily.  When the infusion has reached the desired strength (go ahead and taste it to decide), strain it through a cheesecloth-lined funnel into a clean bottle.  Chill and serve!

Basil-Infused Vodka

1 large bunch fresh basil leaves

about 1 liter triple-distilled vodka

Wash the basil leaves in cool water and lay out to dry on a clean kitchen towel.  Tear the leaves roughly and add them to a clean, wide-mouthed, glass jar.  Pour in the vodka.

Screw the jar lid on tightly and swirl the mixture to combine.  Store in a cool, dark place for 7-10 days, swirling daily.  When the infusion has reached the desired strength (go ahead and taste it to decide), strain it through a cheesecloth-lined funnel into a clean bottle.  Chill and serve!

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