Make Bad Booze Better

by Victoria Johnson

Good liquor is expensive. But there is an easy, cheap way to elevate bottom shelf booze: infuse it with something. Way better than the running-Zelko-through-multiple-Brita-filters trap, and definitely better tasting than MD 20/20.

The Things You Need:

1. A sealable container of some kind (like a large flour jar, $3)

2. Booze (like a handle of Seagram’s, $14)

3. Something to put in the booze (like strawberries and cilantro, $3 and $1, respectively)

4. Patience (free)

The Steps:

1. Prepare the subjects of infusion. Here, that means slicing the strawberries into quarters and cutting the roots of the cilantro bundle. Place into container.

2. Pour chosen alcohol into container and seal.

3. Leave it alone, out of direct light, for as long as you want. It’s really up to you. A bartender I know leaves walnuts in vodka for months at a time to make homemade nocino, but I’m not that patient. Start tasting it after three days. Once you think it tastes perfect…leave it one more day. Five usually does the trick for me.

4. Drink! Cocktail umbrellas are not optional.

How many drinks are there in 750ml? Fifteen? Add in a bottle of tonic water ($1) and it comes out to $1.47/drink. What would you pay for a strawberry cilantro-infused g&t at your local bar? (A LOT.)

Here are some suggestions to get you started. We’ve made all of these over the years, and they’re all fantastic.

• pear ginger gin
• strawberry pineapple gin
• beet gin
• mint cucumber vodka
• swedish coffee vanilla vodka
• vanilla pear vodka
• rosemary vodka
• pineapple chili tequila
• bacon or pork belly bourbon
• apple cinnamon whiskey
• mint whiskey
• raspberry mint whiskey
• blackberry St Germain
• cucumber gin (bastardized Hendrick’s!)

One tip, though: that stuff that’s been soaking? DO NOT EAT IT. It is not nearly as tasty as it smells. That goes double for anything in tequila.

Victoria Johnson is the patron saint of easy culinary pursuits.

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