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How to Sous Vide Infused Alcohols
Most alcohols are infused at 130°F to 160°F (55°C to 71°C) for 1 to 3 hours. The time and temperature used depends on the flavoring agents you are using. For more delicate flavors I usually use lower temperatures and shorter times. When bolder, or bitter, flavors are desired then higher temperatures and longer times are used.
The first step is to seal the alcohol and flavoring agents in a sous vide bag, Mason jar or other sealed container. You want to make sure it seals so the alcohol and aromatics don't escape during the heating process.
Step two is to put the bag or jar into a heated water bath. I generally infuse my sous vide alcohol at 135°F to 160°F (57.2°C to 71°C) for 1 to 3 hours. The higher temperatures will impart more of a cooked or bitter flavor and the lower temperatures are usually best for more mild aromatic or floral items.
The longer the alcohol infuses for, the stronger the final flavor will be. One to three hours is usually ideal for me, with a definite difference between the ends of the spectrum.
Once the infusion is done, take it out of the water bath and let it cool for about 10 minutes. At that point, place it in cold water or a water bath to fully chill the alcohol.
At that point it is ready to be used however you want! I will usually strain it though so I can easily use it in cocktails or other drinks.
As mentioned, there are a few differences between this and a standard infusion.
Alcohol has a Lower Boiling Point
The first main difference is that sous vide alcohol shouldn't be heated above it's boiling point, which is around 173°F (78°C). Because of this, alcohol is much more volatile than water or vinegar, and if heated above 173°F (78°C) it can very quickly cause bags (or even Mason jars) to burst. Because of this, I usually max out alcohol at 150°F to 160°F (65°C to 71°C) just to be on the safe side.
Alcohol is More Volatile
Another difference is that because it is more volatile, it is very important to chill the infusion once it is done sous viding. It's always important for infusions to lock in the flavor, but for alcohol infusions it is even more critical.
What Types of Alcohol Infuse Best?
Base spirits like vodka, whiskey, and rum are the most common alcohols to infuse but 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. The liquors retain their existing flavors so the bolder the liquor is, the less the flavoring agents will impact the final taste of the infusion.
Because of this, vodka or another neutral spirit such as Everclear are often used for infusions because they allow the full flavor of the flavoring agents to shine through. White rum and silver tequilas are also very popular because of their mild flavors, which lend well to many infusions.
Once you move away from the milder spirits, the flavoring agents need to complement the base spirit being used. Infusing bourbon and dark rum can result in wonderful drinks but you should stick to ingredients that will work in tandem with their strong flavors, not against them. You will also need to use stronger flavoring agents because subtle notes can get lost in the deeply flavored spirits.
In traditional infusions, the proof of the liquor (the amount of alcohol present in it) affects the strength of the infusion. The higher the proof, the more flavor will be drawn out. Because of this, I tend to use overproof or 100+ proof spirits in traditional infusions. This effect is less pronounced in sous vide infusions and almost non-existent when using the whipping siphon.
My favorite application is to use infused alcohol as components in cocktails. The flavors add great complexity in both alcohol-heavy drinks such as a Manhattan, Old Fashioned, or martini as well as lighter drinks like fizzes or sodas. You can also turn infused alcohols into liqueurs like limoncello through the addition of sugar.
Most alcohol infusions will last indefinitely in a dark cabinet, though the flavors will fade over time. Some sweeter or lower-proof alcohol infusions will start to go bad more quickly though and should be refrigerated. In general, the infusion will last as long as the alcohol would by itself.
If you are trying to figure out what flavors work best in an infusion for a specific item, you can often turn to what flavors are in the classic cocktails for that spirit. It's an easy way to see what pairs and doesn't pair with a specific liquor.
Sous Vide Infused Vodka
Vodka is a great alcohol to infuse because it is so mild. It readily takes up the flavors of the flavoring agents, which makes it the most versatile infusing medium.
I almost always infuse vodka when I'm using milder flavoring agents, especially mint, basil and other herbs, lighter fruit or vegetables, and citrus. You can take the flavors in many different directions and almost anything works great with it.
There are two types of infused gin you can make with sous vide, flavored gin, or homemade gin.
Flavored gin is where you take gin and add different flavoring agents to it. You want to be sure to use flavors that will go well with the gin, especially grapefruit or citrus, sour apples or cucumber, pine or peach.
I usually infuse my gin with a whipping siphon, because heating it with sous vide can occasionally cause the oils from the juniper to separate out, but here is a sous vide infused gin recipe you can follow, as well as 2 whipping siphon ones you can also make with sous vide by following the directions in the first one.
The other type of gin you can infuse at home is using sous vide to make your own gin. This process involves taking vodka or another high-proof, neutral alcohol and infusing the standard gin flavoring agents into it.
Different gins have different flavor profiles, but in general you will want to infuse it with juniper berries, which is the main addition in all gins. You can also tweak the taste in various directions through the addition of other flavors, some of the more common ones are lemon, orange or grapefruit peel, anise, coriander, nutmeg, or cassia bark.
Sous Vide Infused Tequila
Tequila has a nice in-between flavor, not too mild and not too strong, so it can be used in many infusions. It is also often drunk straight, so the infusion will stand out more.
For sous vide infused tequila, I often stick to classic flavoring such a lime, chile pepper, pineapple, jalapeno...generally citrus, spice, or fruit. You can look at classic tequila cocktails for more inspiration.
Silver tequila is best for the more mild ingredients because it is so neutral. When using aged tequila or mescal you will want to ensure that the flavors will complement the stronger tequila flavor.
I don't have any sous vide infused tequila recipes on my site right now, but you can use the following recipes as an idea and convert them to sous vide very easily.
Whisky and bourbon has a much stronger flavor than the more mild spirits, which means you want to be careful when choosing the flavors to infuse. Sticking with the flavors commonly used in classic cocktails is a great start, but experimenting can be great fun!
You can also always use moonshine to pick up more nuanced flavors.
There are many ways you can use infusions in cocktails. My favorite is to use it as a base component by replacing the base spirit with an infused version of it. Just make sure the flavors complement the other flavors in the drink.
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What is the Best Sous Vide Infused Alcohols Temperatures and Times?
Most alcohols are infused at 130°F to 160°F (55°C to 71°C) for 1 to 3 hours. The time and temperature used depends on the flavoring agents you are using. Lower temps equals more delicate flavors.
Mild, Uncooked Flavors:
130°F for 1 to 3 hours (54.4ºC)
Medium, Stronger Flavors:
145°F for 1 to 3 hours (62.8ºC)
Cooked, Strong Flavors:
160°F for 1 to 3 hours (71.1ºC)
Do you have experience cooking infused alcohols? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
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.
Sous Vide Infused Alcohols Comments
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