How To Infuse Your Own Flavored Liquor At Home

Give your plain house cocktail an easy and delicious makeover. 

Cucumber-Jalapeño Gin Cooler
Photo: Photographer Jennifer Causey, Prop Stylist Lindsey Lower, Food Stylist Torie Cox

Apart from the brave purists that drink bourbon on the rocks all year long—and not just during the holidays with a pecan praline on the side—most people do tend to prefer a cocktail that has some personality in terms of flavor, whether it's fruity, sour, herby, or fizzy. All of the above? Sure.

While it might initially seem like making a cocktail at home that packs as much of a flavorful punch as one you'd order at a restaurant or bar is difficult to do, there is no reason to fear trying your hand as a beginner mixologist. In fact, it's easier than you think to create your own aperatif for happy hour. One simple trick to making a professional-quality cocktail at home? Infusing your own liquor.

Anyone who loves ordering a spicy margarita or a cucumber vodka gimlet can appreciate how much of a difference just one ingredient can make—especially when whipping up a basic cocktail at home that consists of just liquor, lime, and sparkling soda water. An infused liquor can completely change the game. It instantly turns a two-second drink into a fanciful affair that can easily become your new signature house cocktail when having guests over or hanging on the porch.

Luckily, all it takes is your liquor of choice and infusion of choice. Just keep in mind you'll need to start at least a day or two before you plan to make a cocktail. Some popular flavor combinations include:

Tequila and jalapeño
Vodka and cucumber
Rum and pineapple
Vodka and lemon
Gin and ginger
Tequila and orange
Rum and mint
Whiskey and cinnamon sticks

Really, any fruit or herb will do the trick. Here's how to infuse your liquor at home.

In a 16-ounce Mason jar, place around ⅓ or ½ cup of fruit, herbs, or whatever filling of choice. For example, slice one jalapeño and place it in the bottom of the jar. Same goes for one small lemon, diced pineapple, or a handful of mint or basil. Top with the liquor of your choice. It will call for about 12 ounces. Seal with a lid. Let sit in the fridge for at least 2 or 3 full days. The longer it sits, the more infused it will become. For more delicate flavors like lemon and mint, wait 3 days if possible. You're able to let the liquor infuse for up to 5 days.

When ready to use, strain the contents of the Mason jar through a sieve to get rid of the fruit and herbs, and then pour into a clean Mason jar or airtight container. It's now primed to make a cocktail! Just make sure not to leave the unstrained infusion in the fridge for longer than 5 days. Once it's strained, it's perfectly safe to use for as long as you would any plain liquor on the bar cart.

While we listed basic combinations, feel free to go off-script and combine whichever ingredients you like best. For instance, jalapeño and cucumber go well together, as well as ginger and mint. To further enhance the flavor, you can garnish your house cocktail with more of the fruit or herbs of choice. Infused liquor makes it so even the most basic cocktail is full of flavor without any need for fancy liqueurs, bitters, or mixers. Cheers!

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