Hotel 1000 gave Seattle a night to remember on December 10th and with BOKA Bar’s Chief Mixologist, Mi-Suk Ahn, on loan, we learned some tricks of the trade. Mi-Suk is not only one of Seattle’s most celebrated bartenders, but her passion for infusions goes back to when liquor companies were first developing flavored vodkas.
The goal of infusion, if you aren’t too familiar, is to essentially instill fruits, vegetables or herbs in liquor until it achieves the desired flavor. The process itself requires time, patience, and a little bit of fearless experimentation but the rewards are more than worth the effort.
So if you’re eager to let the mad-scientist within have a bit of fun, let me relay a few things Mi-Suk taught us:
- Don’t use the top of the line liquors to create an infusion–it’s like putting ketchup on a steak. Instead, use inexpensive liquors and improve on the flavor. You know that cheap bottle you always get stuck with after a party because no one wanted to drink it? Now it has a place in your life.
- Even soaked in alcohol, fruit can expire so keep an eye on it. So if you’re using fresh fruit, don’t let it sit more than two weeks. If you haven’t quite achieved the flavor you’re looking for and the fruit looks to be on its way out, swap it out for something fresh.
- Citrus fruit skin carries the most potent flavor.
- Infusing pomegranate with vodka creates a warm caramel flavor.
- Make sure to give the infusion a good shake at least every other day or it will just all hang out at the bottom.
- Worth with ingredients that are in season.
- Crush or slice a fruit to get more of the juice and flavor faster when infusing.
- There is no such thing as a wrong infusion–it all comes down to your pallette. Experimentation is key.
During the class we enjoyed some complimentary BOKA bites and Mi-Suk gave us a crash course of which fruits and herbs typically compliments which liquor by walking us through a few infusions and allowing us to sample a cocktail made from them.
2oz kumquat infused whisky
1/2oz simple syrup
2 drops cherry bitters
Stir into martini glass, garnish with bourbon cherries.
At the end of the night, after absorbing all the knowledge we could, Mi-Suk helped us each make a small jar of our own infusion. I’m normally not a big whiskey drinker, but the idea of using infusion to tailor a liquor to your palette intrigued me. With the master of Mixology to guide me, I selected a cinnamon infusion with a small slice of ginger root and orange peel to tame the rye whiskey I would be taking home with me.
As we approach Christmas day, if you’re still scrambling for a gift, consider putting together an infusion for a friend. Remember how you’d get those ‘brownies in a jar’ when you were a kid? Think of this as kind of the same idea. Put in your ingredients, dress up the jar and tape a note instructing when it would be ready for enjoyment, and voila, instant gift for the holiday season.
I know I’ll be curling up with mine on these cold winter nights.
Best of all, Hotel 1000 and BOKA will be hosting some equally fabulous holiday events until December 25.