Infused vodka. Photo: Mccun934, Flickr.
Although the usual vodka soda has its charm, it also serves as a blank canvas to which you may add a variety of electrifying flavors. Though bottled varieties have been making their way into the market (Subrosa infuses vodka with saffron, Hanger One does chipotle-chile, V Georgio uses acai), they're often unnecessarily expensive.
To infuse your own vodka, simply buy a quality distilled bottle and wash and dry your desired ingredient -- be it a savory (rosemary, thyme, lavendar) or refreshing herb (mint, cilantro, basil) or vegetable, fruit or root (jalapeno, orange zest, ginger). Place your flavoring in a jar, and pour the vodka on top. Seal tightly and let it sit away from direct sunlight until you've achieved the desired amount of infusion -- fresh herbs and citrus ingredients need only rest a few days, whereas berries take a week or longer. Other ingredients, such as lemongrass and jalapenos, may take two weeks. You can also do a taste test -- if the flavor is too subtle, let it infuse a few more days.
Here, Flickr user Mccun934 created unexpected pairings of infusions, from front to back: Meyer lemon and guava, coconut and lime, and pomegranate thyme. Topped simply with club soda and simple syrup, if desired, these bases make exciting drinks, though infusing the vodka with only one ingredient allows for a wider variety of uses.
What sort of vodka infusions have you enjoyed? Let us know in the comments!