How to Flavor Rum and Vodka

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Infusing rum, vodka and other spirits is relatively simple and, with just a little preparation, you can have alcohol bursting with flavor in less than a week. Make several different flavors and give them away as gifts. Citrus fruits, berries, mango, pineapple, peaches, pears and apples all make wonderfully fruity liquors. Fresh herbs like mint, rosemary, basil or lemon verbena give a more subdued flavor. Use whole spices like peppercorns, cardamom or cinnamon sticks. Vegetables like hot peppers, cucumbers or olives are ideal for martinis. Vanilla beans, espresso beans or coffee beans are delicious in both rum and vodka.

Thoroughly wash and dry all fruits, vegetables, herbs or spices you'll be using to flavor the alcohol. You should also thoroughly wash the container you'll be using for infusion. Wide-mouthed mason jars work best since you can easily add or remove ingredients.

Prepare your ingredients. Peel any fruits or vegetables from which you normally remove skin. The only exception is citrus fruits, since their rinds contain flavorful oils. Cut all fruits and vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Leave berries, herbs and spices whole.

Add your infusing ingredients to the bottle or mason jar. For fruits and vegetables, fill the jar about halfway. Use your best judgment when it comes to stronger or milder produce. You'll need more cucumbers than jalapeños to flavor the same amount of alcohol, for example. For herbs and spices, use one to two handfuls for each 750 milliliter bottle of alcohol. Use about four vanilla bean pods, one stick of cinnamon, or a three-inch chunk of ginger per bottle.

Pour the rum or vodka into the mason jar and cover tightly.

Place the liquor in a cool, dark place and allow it to infuse for roughly two to seven days, depending on the desired flavor and the ingredients used. Taste the liquor each day or so until the flavor is to your liking.

Strain the alcohol through a fine mesh sieve or cheesecloth. If left too long, fresh produce will begin to break down. Pour the alcohol into bottles and seal until needed.