I was scrolling through Twitter recently and one of the folks that I follow mentioned “Strawberry Vodka.” Normally fruit-flavored vodka wouldn’t interest me, I was happy to hear about a simple recipe and technique from Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics, and since it was strawberry season and my market was bursting with fresh berries, I decided to give it a go.
I made it myself the following day and it was quick, and wonderful. The flavor of the vodka is like drinking syrupy berries in their prime with a kick of alcohol in the aftermath, and it could not be easier to make. It makes a great summer drink; just add an ice cube or two, and you’re ready to sip! I asked Sean if he’d like to write it up as a guest post to share, and he happily agreed. Thanks for sharing, Sean… – David
by Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics
Vodka infusions were my gateway drug to DIY (Do-It-Yourself) food. And once I had been bitten by the cooking bug, I discovered ways of imparting flavors into bland, neutral vodka to produce something utterly new. The technique is almost the opposite of cooking: When you cook, the magic ingredient is heat. With infusions and liqueurs, the magic ingredient is time.
In many ways, it’s my favorite form of preserving. By extracting the flavor of fruit or other ingredients at the peak of their ripeness, you are capturing their very essence. Lightning in a bottle.
The basics of vodka infusion couldn’t be simpler: Cut up fruit, steep in vodka, strain, drink. The nuance, and the art, is in deciding how much fruit, and how long to steep. When you’ve got gorgeous, ripe, unbelievably fragrant strawberries, it doesn’t take much. A couple of cartons of berries and a few days, max.
Always use perfectly ripe, clean and organic fruit. Remember: Vodka is a solvent, so while you’re extracting color, flavor, sweetness and aroma, you could also be extracting pesticides and other chemicals. Choose your fruit wisely.
We’re lucky to have some of the best strawberries available anywhere, right here in San Francisco. For a recent class on infusions, I used lurid, almost glowingly red Albion strawberries that smelled faintly of bubble gum. When we strained the vodka and tasted it, one of the students said she thought it was better than eating actual strawberries.
The flavor of infusions fades relatively quickly – unlike liqueurs – which improve with age. Store in the fridge for several weeks. Or, better yet, keep in the freezer for maximum enjoyment.
Makes about 1 quart (1l)
Sean mentioned that he normally drinks this straight, very well-chilled (because he stores it in the freezer.) He offered that he did make a cocktail with 3 parts strawberry vodka, 1 part sweet vermouth and a dash of Campari but said that you could also add a drizzle of it to a glass of sparkling wine of Champagne for a kir-like concoction. I drank it just over ice, and it was fabulous.
I used inexpensive vodka since it’s just a neutral base for the strawberries. You could add a split vanilla bean or some black peppercorns to the infusion to jazz it up, if you wish. Frugal-types might ask about what to do with the strawberries after they’re used. If you taste one, you’ll find that all of their flavor has been extracted, but you could use them to bulk up a batch of strawberry jam. -david
- One bottle (750ml) vodka
- 2 pints (about 1 1 /4 pounds, 575g) strawberries, organic or unsprayed
1. Rinse, hull, and quarter the strawberries and place them in a glass container with lid. Add vodka, cover, and agitate the jar.
2. Store in cool, dark place (such as a kitchen cabinet) for 3 to 7 days, swirl around once a day.
3. After 3 to 7 days, strain with cheese cloth. If you want it really clear, strain again through a coffee filter.
4. Store in a bottle – such as the original vodka bottle – and use at your discretion.
Related Links and Recipes
Sour Orange-Infused Vodka (Foxy Update)
Rhubarb Vodka (The Kitchn)
Bubble Gum Vodka (A Cozy Kitchen)
Elderberry Vodka (Eating from the Ground Up)
Homemade Bacon Vodka (Brownie Points)
Elderflower Syrup (Georgia Pellegrini)