Categories: Chef Series, Lifestyle

DIY – The Drunken Botanist – Infusing

So this botanist walks into a bar…

The Botanist is none other than best-selling author and brilliant botanical concoctionist, Amy Stewart. Infusing is the art and science of extracting plants and adding them to alcoholic beverages to make amazing botanical creations, and as you will see in this popular presentation, the subject of endless experimentation.

Plant flavors are actually very complex. Even something as simple as cilantro has an abundance of flavor molecules with every nibble. To some it tastes like soap, but others experience the bright, citrusy floral molecules that can mask the soapy flavor. It is in your genes. Actually in your flavor or odor receptors that inhibit or enhance certain tastes.

Amy is the first to admit that, as rewarding as it is to infuse new flavors, sometimes there is just no competing with the pros. Huge shout out to the Italian artistes who craft Strega Liqueur, an enchanting and mysterious Italian spirit which translated means “the Witch.” Flavored with an amalgamation of many botanicals, she warns us not to bother trying to mimic it. Just go buy it!

So which plants extract really well and which don’t?

As you’ll see in her fascinating and informative presentation, floral flavors, lavender, rose, geranium, cucumber, tomatoes, basil odor molecules are not stable and don’t stay in the alcohol very well. Their volatility makes them a poor choice for infusing drinks that require a shelf life of say, 10 minutes or more.

Another important tip involves the polar use of citrus or any other fruit. Make sure it is organic because most are sprayed with chemicals and often coated with wax. Some are even spray-painted before the long truck ride to the market.

You won’t want to miss some of Amy’s simple steps for quick infused drinks with fresh herbs, fruit and spices. What’s the easiest infused drink you can make yourself? Hint: It includes fresh pomegranate juice and sugar…and rhymes with…with…well we can’t think of a rhyme for Grenadine. Enjoy!

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