If you’ve been to Replay Lincoln Park before, you’re probably familiar with our Cinnamon Apple Jamo shot. And if you haven’t been to Replay Lincoln Park before, what are you doing, buddy? Get on over here! Either way, that delicious infused shot is consistently one of our top sellers — smooth and flavorful without being oversweet. You might think making an infused shot like that takes a lot of work, some fancy equipment, or an advanced degree in mixology. Nope! Making infused shots and infused liquors at home is actually a pretty simple process, so we’ll let you in on some of the trade secrets that go into making them. If you follow the steps in this guide to making infused shots at home, you’ll soon have a shelf full of delicious, flavorful, and seasonal drinks. And they’ll beat the pants off of that birthday cake-flavored vodka one of your friends bought you as a joke.
How To Make Infused Shots At Home
What You’ll Need
I know I said you wouldn’t need any specialized equipment to make your own infused whiskeys, gins, vodkas, and rums, but you will need some materials in order to get started. Here’s your shopping list.
- The spirit of your choice
- Mason jar(s)
- Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer
- Infusing materials
A note on picking alcohol to infuse — if you’re starting out making infused spirits on your own without a recipe, experimenting with flavors, vodka is a great place to start. It pretty much offers you a blank canvas. Additionally, until you get your eye in a bit on what goes well with what, you might want to skew towards the bottom of the shelf at the liquor store. Don’t get anything bad, of course, but infusing liquors, especially with darker spirits in the whiskey family, can cover up or muddle some of the natural flavors that make those bottles great in the first place. You don’t need to get much fancier than, say, Smirnoff or Beam. We do, but that’s just because we love you.
Picking Your Materials
This is, oddly enough, the hardest part. We’ll include recipes for some of our favorite infusions below, but we also recommend that you experiment on your own with flavors you enjoy. Infusing time will vary based both on what spirit you choose and what you plan to infuse it with. Infusing agents with strong flavors like cloves, hot peppers, ginger, and citrus peels take much less time to flavor a spirit than, say, an apple will. Keep that in mind when you infuse, because if you infuse a spirit for too long, the taste will get muddled and… bad. This generally only happens with very strong and sweet flavors like vanilla bean pods, but it’s still something to be aware of. You’ll need a sense of timing here.
That said, you can get around this problem very easily by tasting as you go — we’d recommend taste-testing your infused spirits once or twice a day.
In terms of what to pick, run wild! There’s nothing stopping you from trying to make your own birthday cake flavored vodka by getting a bunch of sprinkles, if that’s the way you want to live your life. The sky really is the limit. Personally, I’ve had a lot of success with combinations of mango and habanero peppers, lime and cucumber, ginger and jalapeno, as well as toasted coconut and kiwi.
All that’s left after you pick your infusing materials is to pick a spirit to infuse. Generally, lighter spirits are easier to infuse than darker spirits as they don’t have much else going on taste-wise. I like to match vodka with something sour, spicy, or herbal, gin with something sweet to balance out the herbal tones, whiskeys with something sharp like cinnamon or clove to provide a contrasting flavor, and tequila and rum with tropical things, because it gives me something to sip in the winter while I pretend I’m on a warm beach instead of covered in a thin layer of ice.
Infusing Your Spirit
Unless you picked something that’s a pain to deal with, like a whole coconut or something, this should be the easy part. All you have to do is add your ingredients to a mason jar, cover them with your chosen spirit, then seal and store in a cool, dark place for the infusion period. Like I said above, you’ll want to taste-test at least once a day, and when you do, shake the jar up a bit to speed the process along.
Most infusions will take from 2 to 5 days, so it’ll take some planning ahead to enjoy your spirit, but it’s well worth it. Be patient, and you will be rewarded.
Once you taste the spirit and decide it’s done, you’ll need to strain it into another vessel — most likely another mason jar. Don’t just strain through your spaghetti strainer, though. The idea here is to stop the infusion process in its tracks so that your spirit doesn’t go over. Small seeds, leaf particulate, and a bunch of other stuff could still be floating around in the spirit and that’ll ruin the taste and look of your infused liquor if you miss any of it. Be diligent — I recommend lining a mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth or thick paper towels, then pouring the spirit through that little by little. That should be enough to catch any particulate.
Hey, guess what? You’re done! Slap a label on the front, and pour a bit into a highball glass with some soda water. You deserve it.
Replay Lincoln Park’s Infusion Recipes
Sure, it’s nice to experiment, but in some cases it’s nice to have someone else do the experimentation for you so that you can get a tried-and-true recipe that’s guaranteed to please. Luckily, we’re a bar. That’s literally our job.
Strawberry Jalapeno Tequila
- 1.5 lbs strawberries, stemmed
- 1 1/2 jalapenos, stemmed and sliced into fourths longways. Leave the seeds in the half-jalapeno, seed the other one.
- 1 liter tequila
Add all the ingredients to a large mason jar and leave in a cool, dark place for 4 days, then strain.
Cinnamon Apple Jamo
- 2 fiji apples, cut into thin horizontal slices so that the core makes a star shape
- 2 gala apples, cut the same way
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 1 liter Irish whiskey (We use Jameson, obviously)
Add the apples to a large mason jar, then add the cinnamon sticks and the Irish whiskey. Since apples have a much more subtle flavor than jalapenos or strawberries, this one will take 5 days to infuse. Seal the mason jar and store in a cool, dark place until the infusion process is complete.
You’re now as prepared as you’ll ever be, so why not give it a shot? If you make your own infusion at home, be sure to share with us on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat. We’d love to see what you come up with!
Oh, and y’know, if you don’t feel like waiting 5 days for an infused shot… you know where to find us 😉