Sunday, July 11, 2010

Drinking and Smoking

I get obsessed with things that I can't explain.

One current obsession is smoked flavor, as in, smoked sea salt, smoked paprika, liquid smoke, smoked chipotles. Besides the chilies, I don't yet know how to use these flavors well, but am experimenting a lot.

The other thing that's come out of the blue is wanting to infuse vodka.

Now, I'm not a big drinker. When I do have a drink, vodka isn't usually my choice. I prefer old tequilas, rich ouzos, varieties of cachaça, and drinks that are like meals, such as rich dark beers with chili powder, salt and lime, or thick spicy bloody marias with tons of celery. But lately I want to see veggies, herbs, spices, and fruits floating in jars of vodka so that I can experiment with the outcomes.

I guess it's not entirely out of the blue: I've always liked a pretty cocktail, with frozen currants in place of ice, or with the lip of the glass spiced, or with a couple of raspberries muddled in for color. And, I've always loved seeing preserved things floating in liquid, which explains why I enjoy both fermentation and the Mütter Museum.

My first infused vodka experiment with be with these tiny local plums. They're sweet and tart and colorful, and so far haven't made it any further than getting popped in my mouth whole, making me smack like a horse in Brazil eating mangos.

Do you have any experience making infused liquor with homegrown ingredients?

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