To life, to life, la kayim! The joy of home-enhanced booze.
OK, so this is too late for Christmas, but there's still time before New Year's to try this out. I was pondering the range of joy and sorrow that is the homemade gift.
Now, some homemade gifts are terrible. I mean, terrible. There are macrame plant holders in my past that I'd really rather not discuss. My best friend once received a crotchless lace bodysuit - from her boyfriend's grandmother. Some homemade gifts, however, such as my Aunt's famous homemade pickles, are so fantastic that family members come to fisticuffs over who receives her (rather scant) annual bestowal of two jars of pickles (this year, it was my turn).
I'm a lousy baker. Every year, my boyfriend returns from work with bags and bags of scrumptious cookies, fudge, pastries, and other ass-widening goodness that his coworkers' wives whip up and hand out for the holiday season. I feel simultaneously bemused and jealous. Aw, Suzy Homemaker made some delicious cookies. God. I wish I could do that. But seeing as how I can't, I'd rather send my man off to the holiday work week with a bag of many bottles of good Polish vodka, but that can be pricey.
A few weeks ago, I read a small article in one of my favorite homemaker magazines (Sunset? Better Homes and Gardens?) about creating your own infused vodka. Apparently, vodka's not just for mixing anymore (we people of Slavic descent realize that vodka should be consumed like water, but apparently the rest of y'all have been mixing it with other non-alcoholic beverages to create "cocktails"). New, infused vodka flavors are served over ice, or with neutral flavored soda pop as a mixer.
Sure, sure, you're thinking, but Absolut makes their own flavored vodkas already (including black pepper, which for some reason, NO ONE TOLD ME ABOUT UNTIL YESTERDAY) - why go to the trouble of creating your own?
Well, for one, it's cheaper. You can buy a plain, less-expensive bottle of vodka (a HUGE one, if you live in Las Vegas) and divvy it up into small batches that you can give as gifts or enjoy before work in the morning. Also, you can create a much wider variety of vodka flavors. Why limit yourself? Imagine receiving a gift basket of five different, exotic flavors of vodka - would YOU complain?
Apparently, the process is easy. Vodka kills most germs, so while you probably don't want to go throwing a bunch of scummy socks into a bottle to see if Eau de My Feet is popular with your drinking buddies, you apparently don't have to worry too much about spoilage. That said, you should wash fruit and fruit peels before using any part of them.
For fruit-infused vodkas, you can apparently drop entire berries, or slices of citrus fruits, right into the bottle. Popular vodka infusion flavors include raspberry, lemon, orange, and (the now annoyingly ubiquitous) pomegranate. Play-it-safers also like coconut, cranberry, vanilla (yawn), and espresso.
I'm personally going to try out lavender, rose, green peppercorn, elderberry, mango, kumquat (because I like the word), star anise, ginger, chamomile, jasmine flower, and a variety of tea flavors.
According the article that I originally read, but now cannot find, you should let the ingredients infuse the vodka for something like six months to ensure that you get peak flavor. However, other online recipes say that a couple of days is enough for some of the fruit infusions. Also, I suppose you could always put a "Don't enjoy until" sticker on each tiny, adorable bottle to ensure that the yummy fruit flavors are fully distributed throughout the bottle.