Infuse your own spirits in just a few hours using the sous vide method

make cocktails with sous vide gin and tonic botanicals juniper
tonobalaguer / 123 RF
In some circles, gin and tonics are the official drink of summer. Show up with a white wine spritzer, and you’ll be shunned. But what if the unthinkable happens, and you find yourself gin-less, with naught but vodka in your larder? If you have one of those fancy sous vide machines and some juniper, you can make your own.

Vodka is the same base as gin, “it’s just no botanicals,” as Betony general manager Eamon Rockey explains in a video for the New York City restaurant’s infused-before-your-eyes G&T. Its bartenders started using an immersion circulator to make bespoke gin in just a couple of minutes. Starting with vodka, juniper berries, black pepper, coriander, and cardamom, along with a rotating selection of ingredients like lavender and fennel, they can make an à la minute gin. “It’s not a true gin,” says Rockey, “but it approximates it in flavor and style.” Proof, too.

It takes about 90 seconds at 176 degrees Fahrenheit (80 degrees Celsius) to infuse the vodka, so Betony’s bartenders can do it right before a drinker’s eyes. That means they can experiment with different flavors on the fly. As can you. Here’s a recipe from Anova to get your started.

It’s not just gin, though. Sous vide can speed up the infusion process whether you want to make your own Grand Marnier, blood orange gin, citrus-spiked tequila, or mint-infused bourbon. Normally, infusing spirits takes days or weeks, but by heating the liquor at a fairly low, precisely controlled temperature, you can start sipping on your Old Fashioned, made with maraschino-infused bourbon, in just a few hours.

If you want to go the other way and make liquor-infused fruit, sous vide can do that, too. Hark back to your college days with a watermelon slice full of bourbon (though vodka was probably more customary).

If you can peel yourself off the couch during this weekend’s excessive heat, a sous vide cocktail just might hit the spot. Just remember to use lots of ice.

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