Our “classroom” for the infusing spirits class
Several weeks ago some friends and I went to an infusing spirits with fruit and herbs class at the restaurant at Wente Vineyards in Livermore. The class was interesting and the cocktail we got to drink after the class, a Knockout Martini, was simply incredible.
Although I have not yet taken the time to try it on my own, infusing spirits with fruit appears to be very simple, as you use the amount of alcohol it takes to cover the fruit in the glass container you will be using to store the fruit and alcohol during the infusing process. I think infusing spirits with herbs may be a little trickier and may require some trial and error to get the flavor right. A couple of important things that I took away from the class was that you should always use glass containers to infuse the spirits and that the staff at Wente store their infusing spirits in the refrigerator as a food safety precaution.
Below is a list of the types of spirits and the fruits and herbs that the Wente staff recommends for infusing.
- Vodka: Hot peppers, basil, citrus fruits, watermelon, ginger, rosemary, thyme, pumpkin, cucumber, sage, berries, green tea, pears
- Rum: Pineapple, tropical fruits, mint, herbs, ginger, mango, kumquats, quince
- Bourbon: Peaches, apricots, citrus fruits, mint, cranberries, cinnamon, spices
- Gin: Lavender, citrus fruits, cucumber, mint, basil, roses, grapefruit, green tea, sage, elderflower
- Tequila: Hot peppers, melon, cilantro, kiwi, pineapple, berries
In addition to Wente’s ideas, here is a Danish website with instructions for making schnapps with fresh fruit:
The Knockout Martini
Knockout Infusion (to be used to make Knockout Martini)
- 1 liter Pinnacle Orange Vodka
- 1/3 liter Absolut Mandrin
- 1 pineapple
Cut the ends and the skin off of a whole pineapple. Slice away the core of the pineapple and then cut the remaining pineapple into one or two inch chunks. The chunks don’t have to be perfect. Place the pineapple into a large glass container (a Mason jar would work very well for this). Do not use a plastic container as the plastic can adversely change the taste of your end product. Pour the vodka into the glass container over the pineapple. Place the pineapple in the glass container in the refrigerator for approximately five to seven days. After the five to seven days, strain the liquor into a large container. Place the pineapple pieces into a blender and puree. Use a strainer with fine holes to strain the pureed pinapple into the liquor (you may even want to use cheesecloth). Use a spatula to press all of the juice out of the pureed fruit. Once this process is complete, it is ready for mixing drinks.
To make the Knockout Martini, the staff poured a few ounces of the Knockout Infusion into a cocktail shaker with ice and added some simple syrup. After shaken well, the drink was poured into a glass with a sugared rim.
I think when I finally get around to making my own Knockout Infusion, I will hold back some of the infused pineapple to use as garnishes on the martini.