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DIY Infused Spirits, Fast vs. Slow

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Earlier this year I bought a whipped cream maker and promptly used it to make a lazy girl’s Ramos Gin Fizz. During my research I found that a whipped cream maker has more uses for booze, it can fast infuse spirits in seconds by using the pressure inside the canister to push flavors into the liquor. So cool.

I’ve previously made grapefruit and tarragon infused vodka and love it so much I’ve wanted to introduce it to anybody that showed the smallest interest but it takes six days and I cannot tell the future. So I decided to test a few infusions and do a side by side tasting of the slow and fast versions to see how they compared.

I made slow and fast versions of Cucumber Jalapeño Tequila, Pineapple Ginger Rum and Grapefruit Tarragon Vodka. For the slow infusions I put the ingredients in a jar stored in the fridge for six days, taking a second to swirl the ingredients once a day then I strained them through a fine mesh strainer.

To make fast infusions you put your spirit and flavorings into your whipped cream maker. Put the lid on and charge it with your gas canister. Swirl (don’t shake) the canister for 30 seconds then let it rest for 30 seconds. Carefully, discharge the gas by leaving the canister upright (you want to keep the liquids inside) and slowly pulling the trigger, make sure to point the nozzle away from anything important like delicate stemware or your face. Then remove the lid and pour the ingredients through a fine mesh strainer. Why the swirling and resting for 30 second increments? I’m not sure but Cooking Issues and a few other sources recommend that so I go with it.

Results? My tasting panel (um, myself and Scott) took careful notes. The slow infused gin had more tarragon and more bitterness from the grapefruit peel. The slow infused tequila carried lots of green notes from the cucumber that the fast infusion didn’t show. The slow infused rum showed a little more pineapple, but the fast infusion had a much stronger ginger note. I’m not sure if the fast infusion is better at getting ginger flavor out or if the ginger I used was better, but it was such a clear difference that I might try again to see how it compares.

The winners were the slow infusions, at least for now. I’ll just have to learn to plan ahead if I want people to try Salted Tarragon Greyhounds. (You should make some, I’ll wait.) I think that the recipes could be adjusted to create better results for fast infusions, but I’m wondering if there are some things that just cannot be rushed. Clearly I’ll need to do a lot more research. It’ll be tough to sip so many variations on infused liquor but, for you, I’ll be tipsy any time.

While we were at it I did a fast infusion recipe that I saw demonstrated at the Northwest Distillery and Cocktail Festival by Jay Kuehner. He talked through his recipe so here is the best I could do from my notes from the night. He made enough for six cocktails:

Smokey infused whiskey
10x whiskey
1x lapsang souchong tea
3 vanilla beans

I made a smaller amount and used about 1/4th of a 750 ml bottle of whiskey, one vanilla bean split and cut into a few shorter segments and two pinches of loose tea. I strained the result and then poured it through a coffee filter to also get the the vanilla beans and smaller specks of tea. The tea imparted a nice smokey flavor into the whiskey and though the vanilla wasn’t too apparent in the flavor it imparted a lovely vanilla nose. It vastly improved my unfortunate choice of whiskey (which shall go unnamed).

Have a favorite infusion recipe? Please share it, I have jars and fridge space that need filling.

· comments [16] · 09-27-2012 · categories:food ·

16 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Naama // Sep 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I do a fast-infused chili and cocoa-nib vodka in my whipped cream charger. About half of a small thai chili (a little sereno chili is also yummy) and a few tablespoons of cocoa nibs (I imagine you could just straight up put cocoa in there to make it chocolaty-er, but I wanted to be able to strain the cocoa out), filling the charger with vodka about 3/4 of the way. I let it sit after I swirl it for about 15 min. It comes out spicy and aromatic and is delicious in pineapple juice.

  • 2 megan // Sep 27, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    That sounds amazing! I’ve really been loving cocktails with a little heat to them lately. I love that you add this to pineapple juice, gonna try it!

  • 3 megan // Sep 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    Making a note of a suggestion from a friend: grapefruit and rosemary. Yum.

  • 4 Seanna Lea // Sep 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    I don’t have a whipped cream maker, because I figure that arm power or the stand mixer for large volumes is enough, but the idea that I could make faster granitas (my method is currently mix everything but the alcohol together until the sugar is dissolved, add alcohol and freeze), which I usually make as mixed drinks like gin & tonic granita or mint julep from last year. This could give me a lot of flexibility!

  • 5 megan // Sep 27, 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Seanna Lea – That is a great idea. And it’s sort of warm in my house right now so a granita sounds perfect.

  • 6 TJ // Sep 28, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    I make a mixed drink of whiskey, milk, and maple syrup that I want to try with some of the smokey infused whiskey.

  • 7 megan // Sep 29, 2012 at 11:00 am

    TJ – That sounds amazing, I think a smokey flavor would go really well there.

  • 8 alyson // Sep 30, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I started playing around with the rapid infusing earlier this year, and discovered two things. 1) Most flavors need to be steeped in the charger longer than the 1 minute that Cooking Issues prescribes. Herbs take less time, but anything solid or spices need a bit longer … around 5 – 10 minutes. 2) Infused booze is good, but what I really like the rapid infusing for is to make tinctures that you can *add* to cocktails, kind of like bitters. I’ve been using Everclear for it, but high proof vodka would do well too. A few drops of 5 spice tincture in a Manhattan? SO delicious.

  • 9 megan // Sep 30, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    Alyson – Thanks, what great tips!

  • 10 Melissa // Oct 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Over here, the favorite so far has been vodka infused with lavender, vanilla bean, and local tupelo honey.

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  • 12 Polly // Feb 18, 2013 at 10:46 am

    I can compress canisters with pure oxygen up to several hundred psi, do you think this would have the same effect, or does N2O need to be used?

  • 13 megan // Feb 18, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Polly – I really don’t know the answer to that. I’m not sure if compressed oxygen would have a rapid oxidizing effect that wouldn’t be preferable when dealing with herbs and fruit. I’d be very interested to hear back if you try it!

  • 14 Kimberly // Mar 15, 2013 at 8:35 pm

    I’ve got a small cult following of people who love to drink my fast infusion of coffee beans into vanilla vodka. We’ve been mixing it into New Horizons Organic chocolate milk. In a word, “delicious”.

  • 15 T. Brewer // Feb 27, 2014 at 3:21 pm

    I always double charge my isi. The higher the pressure for the c2o the more of the essence from your ingredients will get pressed out. Also, unless you are using gin it is good to shake instead of swirl. The “swirl” method is just poppycock.

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