A cocktail is similar to a musical composition. Usually made from various components that form a masterpiece. Yea, it’s cliché but the statement stands true no matter how you slice it. Take your favorite cocktail for example. Everything from the spirit to the umbrella used for garnish is meticulously crafted for the perfect presentation. A lot of thought and creativity is put into the process of preparing signature drinks. Being the inquisitive individual I am, I began recreating a lot of my favorites at home and discovered the common practice of experimenting with infusion. This is another one of those ways to take those homemade concoctions to a professional level in a heartbeat.
I am probably one of the easiest people to bore if we are being honest, and drink preparation is no different. With years of binge drinking behind me, I needed to find a more creative way to enjoy my drinks. So I set out on a mission to escape the matrix of common mixers and begin my journey of satiation. What I discovered was the wonderful world of infusion and unconventional ingredients. I don’t know, but I just felt like I was tired of the norm and I needed more. The goal wasn’t to become a master of the mix, but I definitely wanted to familiarize myself with different approaches to mixed drink preparation and discover new recipes.
The journey began with infusion. This is probably where you can be the most creative due to the ability to infuse almost anything. If you are unfamiliar with it; infusion is soaking an ingredient in a spirit, which results in the spirit taking on the flavor of that ingredient. My initial encounter with infusing was soaking strawberries in Tito’s Vodka. Tito’s being a corn based vodka is smoother and the flavors infused without the bitterness of most Vodkas. This is really one of my favorite processes because it’s simple to do and the supplies are relatively inexpensive. All you need is a cheesecloth or coffee filter and a mason jar. All in, you’ll pay no more than $10, but I guarantee you will love the outcome. So pick up one of your favorite spirits, soak your choices for up 5 days (depending on the intensity of the flavors), and be prepared to enjoy.
Now I’m sure you are thinking what’s so daring about strawberries? The strawberries were definitely enjoyable and safe, but I really wanted to dabble with lesser sought after options. That further experimentation led me to cucumbers, oranges, mint, blueberries and I even swung at jalapenos. My favorite out of all them was actually the jalapeno because it added a nice heat to my cocktail. Throw in some cucumber and soda; you have yourself a premium cocktail for sure. This really got me thinking about different mixes for drinks. Ironically it took me back to some of the pairings I had become familiar with from infused waters. Ginger was something I definitely see myself migrating towards before it warms up. I could see that with a Whiskey or Bourbon to add a nice rising spice to the mix. My wife just brought home some bananas she planned on using with her cereal, but I definitely took a couple to use with this rum I was gifted. These unconventional flavors will definitely be my first options during the warm months. They make for a fun drinking experience that creates the perfect setting whether enjoyed alone or with friends and family.
There isn’t a need to be a mixologist to prepare great cocktails. All that’s needed is a bit of creativity and a quality spirit to get started. It’s enhances the experience so much that you will seldom be let down with whatever you make. Honestly, even if something is off I have found the use of other flavors to offset and balance the drinks will always bring it back. So I say experiment with different ingredients, take risks, and let your thoughts go off the wall. Before you know it, you’ll be creating some of the best stuff you’ve ever had. Things that are unique and innovative, that leave you reaching back for more every time.