For years alcohol has been consumed both as a drink and as a cooking ingredient. Today you can turn a simple drink into a fancy cocktail by adding a modernist twist: dispense flavored foam on top just before serving. Perk up a party by adding gelatin in a rum mixture to create gelatin mojito shots or elevate a meat sauce by thickening a bourbon whiskey concoction with agar and xanthan gum. The options are limitless!
Another very popular alcohol option is turning it into an alcohol infusion. Alcohol infusions can be used in cocktails, shrubs, foams, gels, and spheres. Base spirits like vodka, whiskey, and rum are the most common alcohols to infuse because they allow the full flavor of the flavoring agents to shine through. However, white rum and silver tequilas are also very common because of their mild flavors, which lend well to many infusions.
Traditional infusions can be done on any spirit with a high alcohol percentage. Using the sous vide or whipping siphon methods allows even high-sugar liqueurs or quick-to-fade wines to be safely infused. Regardless of the method, most alcohol infusions will last indefinitely in a dark cabinet, though the flavors will fade over time.
Many of these recipes and others are available in our book Modernist Cooking Made Easy: Infusions: The Ultimate Guide to Crafting Flavorful Infusions Using Modernist and Traditional Techniques which you can get on Amazon.com.
This refreshing fizz drink gets the tartness from the sour apples but you can add some lime or lemon juice if you want it more sour. If you want a sweeter drink you can add a teaspoon or so of agave syrup.
Limoncello is a classic Italian digestif. For this quick cocktail version I combine a simple syrup and a Lemon Infused Vodka. The final product is a little less rounded than the original, but it's still a refreshing drink!
This liqueur is perfect when served with dessert or as an after dinner drink over ice. For even more apple flavor I add some Calvados or Apple Jack or for a fun take on a bourbon White Russian add a splash of milk or heavy cream.
The Old Fashioned is such a fun drink because you can take it in so many different directions. I use the clementine bourbon in addition to a brown sugar simple syrup to make a rich and flavorful Old Fashioned.
Bitters add aromas to subtly tweak the flavors of cocktails. Classic aromatic bitters infusions have notes of cinnamon, clove, and cardamon while using several bittering agents to round out the flavors.
Mulled wine is a traditional spiced wine, usually flavored with cinnamon, raisins, orange, and star anise. Using the sous vide infusion process results in a more flavorful, nuanced mulled wine by preventing flavor loss that normally occurs when wine is boiled.
Rum punch is a strong, fruity drink that is best sipped on the beach! This infusion takes many of the common rum punch flavors and infuses them directly in the rum. I like to
serve the resulting infusion with a splash of orange juice and pineapple juice.
Making your own infusion allows you to produce the exact flavors you are looking for. This peach brandy recipe infuses the sweetness and fruity flavors from ripe peaches into brandy. It also works well with other fruits or berries.
You can make nice versions of aged cocktails in a few hours with a Mason jar by taking advantage of the quick and easy sous vide process. It does not give the cocktail as much body as aging it for 6 weeks in a barrel, but it still is a satisfying drink.
The light, fruity flavors of apples and pears complement the herbal notes from the gin, resulting in a rounded infusion full of flavors. The infused gin is great in martinis and holds up well to other complex cocktails.
Bourbon holds up wonderfully to the strong flavor of espresso and this infusion results in a rich, bold bourbon that can be used in many different cocktails. For a fun variation you can also add a vanilla bean or cinnamon stick to the infusion.
The fruity cherry notes in this infusion complement the spicy rye and tone down its bite. The cinnamon and clove also contribute background flavors to round out the infusion. The resulting infusion can be enjoyed over ice or mixed into cocktails.
I like to mimic an Arnold Palmer by infusing vodka with the lemon and tea flavors, resulting in a flavorful addition to drinks on a hot day. I infuse the lemons first to fully extract their flavors, then add the tea near the end to minimize the bitterness that can be released.
This recipe uses guajillo and chipotle chiles to infuse the vodka with smokey and spicy flavors that complement most Bloody Mary mixes. This vodka is very spicy and made to
be mixed but it can be tweaked for a mellow, sipping style infusion.
The resulting vodka from this orange and vanilla sous vide infusion is citrusy with a deep vanilla backbone. It is awesome in a martini but my favorite is in a Creamsicle, a rich and creamy dessert cocktail.
I use a whipping siphon process to quickly infuse gin with tonic flavors, resulting in a tart alcohol that isn't watered down. Infusing grapefruit adds acidity and citrus notes while cinchona bark adds the quinine tonic flavor.
This infusion adds the sweet and tart subtle flavors of cucumber and sour apples to the natural gin taste of juniper and herbs. Enjoy this infused gin over ice with club soda or just a splash of tonic water!
Lemon infused vodka is a citrusy, flavorful drink and the base for limoncello. By using the whipping siphon to quickly extract the flavors from the lemon peels, the final product is a little less rounded but still so refreshing.
Nitrous oaking is a take on the barrel aging prepared cocktails process by utilizing the whipping siphon. The high pressures draw out the caramel flavors from the toasted oak chips and infuse them into the liquid.
A hot toddy is a classic cold- and flu-killing drink consisting of hot water and whiskey flavored with lemon and cloves. This hot toddy infusion might not cure you of your sickness but it sure tastes great!
In this infusion the sweet and tart flavor of blackberries pairs wonderfully with the slightly spicy and herbal basil. It is a fruity, flavorful addition to many cocktails and is especially tasty in rum punch or as a liqueur.
This is a tastier take on the commonly served Jell-O shot
especially if you top them with some candied lime peel
and a little sprig of mint. You can even substitute any of your favorite drinks into this recipe - let your imagination run wild!
This recipe uses guajillo and chipotle chiles to infuse the vodka with smokey and very spicy flavors that complement most Bloody Mary mixes. You can reduce the spiciness by only using 1 guajillo pepper.
Limoncello is a classic Italian digestif from Southern Italy made by macerating lemon peels in alcohol for up to a month. In this recipe I use the modernist equipment power of the whipping siphon to reduce the process down to only 5 minutes. This end product is added to sugar and water; now it's ready to use.
Tequila has a bad reputation as a party drink but you can tame it if you replace the shots with this sophisticated cocktail. The paloma is a traditional Mexican cocktail and is much more common than a margarita south of the border. It is usually made with tequila and a grapefruit soda, such as squirt, served over ice, and is both easy to make and delicious.
These cocktail cubes are a fun way to entertain your guests. They are rum infused strawberries encased in a daiquiri cube. When you bite into them the cube starts off with a sweet and tart flavor followed up by the kick of the rum-infused strawberries.
My favorite end-of-day drink has to be bourbon. Most days I'll stick to my favorite brands on the rocks or I'll make a Manhattan, but sometimes I'm up for trying something different. In this case, an orange-cinnamon infused bourbon made with my whipping siphon.
My wife's relatives in Florida love their Bloody Marys and this is her modernist take on them, focusing on the celery garnish and turning it into the serving vessel a la the traditional "ants on a log" children's snack.
One of the fun things about modernist cooking is changing the textures of common dishes while keeping the flavors the same. This creates almost a confusion in the palate when it's being eaten and the brain recognizes the flavors but not the textures. This recipe creates a solid Bloody Mary gel with agar agar that has applications in various dishes.
My Mom isn't a big fan of pork but when my Dad made this recipe for her she fell in love with the combination of the bourbon sauce with the perfectly cooked sous vide pork tenderloin. The sous vide tenderloin comes out incredibly moist and the bourbon sauce creates a flavorful glaze that just adds layers of flavor.
Summer is upon us and my thoughts have turned to berries, and cherries, and luscious stone fruits. I love to combine the sweetest fruit of the season with a simple yet elegant sauce such as Italian zabaglione (or sabayon, as it is known in France).
My wife loves tequila, especially straight or in a margarita. I wanted to do a fun twist for her so I decided to make a cocktail with tequila that would resemble a beer. This frothy tequila with citrus air recipe is a fun play on a margarita, tequila shot, and beer combination. If you like tequila you'll love this!
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