Skip to content

Infusing the holidays with spirits

December 5, 2009

Cranberry infused vodka is so beautiful

“The only gift is a portion of yourself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

It is all the rage to infuse different liquors with flavors. You can sense that when you walk into a liquor store and discover there are 13 types of coconut rum. The unfortunate thing about commercially infused spirits is that they are infused with chemical flavors, not the real deal.  Infusing your own is easy, creative, tasty, and a luscious holiday gift from your kitchen.

When you first get started with infusing liquor it is highly recommended to use clear blank canvases like white rum and vodka. They are easy to infuse with fruit, herbs, vegetables or whatever strikes your fancy. When working with darker liquors, choose strong bold flavors like vanilla and cinnamon.

Pick a mid priced alcohol for your infusions, not the cheapest, but defiantly not the most expensive. The infusion will just mask the lavish taste! I used “Smirnoff” vodka and “E & J” brandy for my experiments and they just fine.

Wash your bottles or jars in really hot water and keep clean till you use them. I put mine through the dishwasher. If you are using a canning jar, place a bit of plastic wrap between the lid and the alcohol. The alcohol will react with the metal lid otherwise and you could get some pretty funky stuff out of the deal.

Turning the infused spirits into a gift is particularly fun. Find some beautiful bottles to present your gift in, or just use a canning jar all deck out for the holidays.  I ordered some bottles from “Specialty Bottles” out of Seattle. (206-382-1100)

Dress up your bottles! Use Christmas cards for decorating your bottles and tie little Christmas ornaments on it for an extra touch of love. I like to include the recipe for the infusion on the back of the tag, so the gift giving can keep on going. You can also add a recipe for your favorite cocktail or food, using the infusion.

Get started as early as possible infusing your spirits. The longer they set the better. Shake them every few days to facilitate the infusion.  I like to leave all the nummies in the jar and instruct the lucky recipient to eat the fruit out of these infusions. They are great on ice cream or cake! (hiccup)

The Most important thing to remember is to have fun. There are no set rules in this playful world and the Skyy is the limit.

Cranberry Infused Vodka

This cranberry infusion in such a beautiful sight to behold. The bright red of the cranberries just screams Christmas! This is great in a cranberry cosmopolitan. You can add some orange zest and use orange juice instead of water, for a scrumptious cranberry orange infusion.

12 oz fresh cranberries

1 to ½ cup of sugar

2 tablespoons of water

750 ml bottle of vodka

In a medium saucepan, simmer the cranberries, sugar and water till the sugar is dissolved, a luscious pink syrup has formed and the most of the cranberries are intact. Take off the heat and stir a bit. Spoon the cranberries in your chosen clean receptacle and pour the vodka over it. Seal up the jar tight and shake it real good. Store in a dark, cool place and shake it to life every few days. Let it age for two to three weeks before you serve it.

Brandy being infused with pear and cinnamon

Apple Jack Brandy

This brandy is so good in eggnog and hot cocoa it is hard to believe! It is also superb to cook with, like on pork chops. You may replace the apples with pears for a lovely pear infused brandy.

4 or 5 organic apples

¼ cup sugar

2 tablespoons of water

Or Apple juice

Cinnamon sticks (optional)

2 Vanilla beans (optional)

1000 ml bottle of brandy

In a largeish saucepan, heat up, over medium heat, the sugar and water till all the sugar dissolves. Add the apples and steam for a little bit. If you need to ad a bit more water, go ahead, but don’t burn those apples! Set off the burner and gather up your clean, wide mouth, quart jars. Scoop a cup of apples into each jar, insert a cinnamon stick or a split vanilla bean down the side of the jar and fill with brandy.

Cover the top with a bit of plastic wrap then screw the lid on, nice and snug. Shake them up and place in a cool dark place to age for 1 to 2 months. Visit them every few days and give them a shake and a pat. Strain the brandy through a fine mesh strainer before you use it. Enjoy the fruit on ice cream or cake. Have a spirited holidays!

16 Comments leave one →
  1. December 5, 2009 9:40 pm

    Oh Dana, what a wonderful post! Bravo! Your photos are gorgeous and really put me in a festive mood. The recipients of these gifts are very lucky indeed! …Susan

  2. December 6, 2009 9:35 am

    Oh my that apple brandy looks so festive (not to mention delicious). I am going to have to make some ready for Christmas. The quince brandy I made is going down well so I’m sure this will too.

    BTW My blog address has changed to

  3. December 6, 2009 2:14 pm

    One year, I infused raspberries with brandy … oh man – that was one of the best infusions EVER! This looks just as awesome. 🙂

  4. December 7, 2009 4:38 am

    Nice gift ideas. Thanks.

  5. December 7, 2009 4:54 pm

    I just finished making homemade Creme de Cassis – a few steps, but still easy. I found great bottles at Ikea:

    34 oz and pretty to boot. I’m going to try the vodka cranberry infusion – looks like a showstopper!

  6. December 7, 2009 6:23 pm

    I actually have my own cranberry orange vodka infusing as we speak…but the Apple Jack is going to be my next try…that just sounds AMAZING!

  7. December 10, 2009 6:58 pm

    OOH! I tried vanilla vodka, which was nice. But brown isn’t very festive. I’m trying the cranberry hooch right away. A question though, is there anywhere in Portland I can find those little bottles? When we married 3 years ago I went to all the Cost Plus World Markets and bought all of their stock, they never replenished them for some silly reason. Since time is ticking, I don’t think I can mail order them…

  8. December 22, 2009 12:07 am

    Booze! Now we are on a topic I can really relate to. This must open up all sorts of great mixed drink possibilities.

  9. Dianna permalink
    November 19, 2010 9:38 am

    Can you substitute vodka for brandy in the apple jack? Don’t care for brandy at all.

    • ziabaki permalink*
      November 19, 2010 5:12 pm

      Oh yes, that would be fine. You could also sub rum, yum. Have fun!

  10. April 21, 2011 1:24 pm

    I am about to go out to my garden to pick violets for a violet liqueur. I doubt there are enough, so I will be making a very small vial. It is used in making the old fashioned drink called the Aviation. I think I will try the cranberry at some point too. I bought pear vodka, becoming very popular nowadays, and am wondering how to infuse that, and would vanilla go well with pear?

    • ziabaki permalink*
      April 22, 2011 4:39 am

      Violet infused liqueur? Wow, that would be great! An Aviation huh? I’ll have to look that one up for sure. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Chelle permalink
    July 28, 2014 12:23 pm

    I realize this post is quite late (2014), however for others that may find this, most canning jars made now have BPA-free lids so it is no longer necessary to line with plastic. Yippee for progress!! If you’re unsure if your lid is BPA-free usually the manufacturers website has information to help you tell. I’m excited to try both of these recipes for holiday gifts!


  1. Holiday Cyber Tuesday #2: DRINKS « New in the Kitchen
  2. The R+D Reindeer « The Key of Kels
  3. This Weekend: Boozin’ Infusion

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: