Infusing Some Heat in that Spirit

Infusing is the process of adding new flavors to spirits that you can’t normally find on the liquor store shelves. For example, rum can be infused with vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks to create a delicious homemade vanilla spiced rum. Or gin can be infused with blueberries to create blueberry gin for an interesting twist. The possibilities are endless.

Any clear spirit is perfect for infusing; vodka, gin and silver rum. The process is pretty simple; choose your flavors, prepare them for infusion, and put into the spirit for a certain amount of time. Of course, a bit of research needs to go into each step, like how to prepare the flavors for infusing, and how much time is needed to infuse. The Internet is a glorious resource with bountiful examples of infusing spirits.

For my first infusion, I settled on a spicy vodka. I chose jalapeño, serrano, and habanero chiles. I bought two of each, except for the habanero. I decided that with habanero chiles, being the hottest of the three peppers, one would do.

Infusing the vodka with peppers

The prep phase is simple: Slice the peppers into strips; remove the seeds and ribs; and, you’re done.

Next, empty the vodka into an airtight jar. I used preserving jars for this purpose. Place the peppers right into the vodka, place the jar in a dark place at room temperature, like a kitchen cabinet, and let it sit.

Once or twice a day, lightly shake the jar. Try not to open the jar too often. This should take about four days. On the fourth day, open it and taste. If it is not infused to your liking, check back daily. Don’t let it infuse too long, or it will end up sour or rotten. In this case, longer does not necessarily mean better. Strain out the peppers and put the vodka back into the original bottle. You’re done!

The end product is a spicy, hot vodka. It will have a slight vegetal taste when compared to the commercial products, but this adds to the charm and character of your own personal infusion. It’s perfect for a good, spicy bloody mary.

But I prefer something less pedestrian than your everyday bloody mary. One of my favorite food combinations is hot and sweet, so I crafted the following recipe. I call it a “Hot Sunrise.”

The Hot Sunrise

Hot Sunrise

  • 4 parts pepper-infused vodka
  • 4 parts pineapple juice
  • 2 parts of simple syrup
  • 1 part of maraschino liquor
Place all ingredients in a Boston shaker with crushed ice. Shake vigorously until the shaker frosts on the outside. Strain into a glass over ice cubes.

No garnish—a garnish will just burn in flames. Cheers!


Scott lives in Denver and spends his time drinking the local beer as often as he can. He’s also been featured on Brewing Some Fun and Drink with the Wench.