Liquor in the front …

(Blog title inspired by Stockmans Bar in my college town of Missoula, Montana. Clueless me didn’t get the double entendres until I moved out of state — in my defense, the place really did have a bar up front and cards in the back.)

Maybe the reason I’m suddenly infusing all sorts of liquors is because it’s too hot to cook, and this is the next-best thing.

It started with the Skittles-flavored vodkas, then morphed into an experiment with leftover vodka and watermelon Jolly Ranchers. With the help of this weekend’s tasters, including Work Wife and The Meatheads, the Jolly Ranchers one disappeared almost instantly, so I’m now making double the quantity of that, and a similar amount of a blue raspberry vodka, too.

“Do you have anything that would be good in a martini?” The Bulgarian asked at dinner tonight. “Well, I really don’t like making martinis,” I replied. “I’m lazy.”

“You have a half-dozen high school-level science experiments going on in your kitchen right now,” said Smarmy Bastard. “That is like the opposite of lazy.” He was referring to the new infusions I assembled today after I finally strained the tangerine vodka and second round of ginger vodka into their new holding containers. Here’s the new rogue’s gallery now populating our kitchen shelves:

Watermelon Jolly Rancher vodka. Since the first round went so fast, I’m making the second batch twice as big.

Blue raspberry Jolly Rancher vodka. And since the watermelon turned out so well, the blue raspberry can’t help but be good, either. In fact, the only Jolly Rancher flavor I thought I wasn’t too keen to try was the grape … until I realized how good that would be in lemonade, too.

Strawberry vodka. I had hoped to start a batch of strawberry-rhubarb vodka today, but couldn’t find rhubarb at the store. So I’m starting with just the strawberries for now.

Cherry bourbon. Smarmy Bastard didn’t like my attempt at apricot bourbon, but is interested to see how this turns out. I’m already second-guessing my decision to leave the cherries intact to save myself the work of halving and pitting. I’m only trying this with 500 ml worth of bourbon, so if it fails I’ll still have 250 ml of unadulterated liquor to console myself with.

If it does fail, I’m suing Martha Stewart, since it’s her recipe. My asking reward will be a lifetime supply of the tags that I bought from her Home Office collection at Staples for this project. (I love a good excuse to pick up organizational supplies.) On the back of each tag I wrote when I started each bottle, when I should start thinking about removing the infusions, and the suggested additional time before serving.

This morning, Mr. Brooks half-jokingly asked if, after the Skittles and the Jolly Ranchers experiments, a black licorice-flavored liquor was next up. Well, sorta … (We both do like black licorice, so this one could be a household favorite, despite the use of gin instead of vodka.)

Here’s the crapshoot flavor: rosemary vodka. I figure it could be good with cucumber flavors, and even mixed with lemonade. We’ll see …

And way up top is the basil vodka, which is one of the ones I’m most excited to try. I still have to figure out what could go well in tequila — I’m leaning toward jalapeño peppers and limes. But I read somewhere that ginger makes a delicious add, so despite how I’ve already got that delicious ginger vodka, I might have to give ginger tequila a whirl, too. (Side note: “Ginger Tequila” would make a delightful drag queen name.) I’m also keen on trying a honey lavender vodka, although I’m not sure what it could be enjoyed with, besides the old standby, lemonade. …

All in all, a more productive use of these old Mason jars than storing pasta. I pretty much started seeing the noodles in those jars as decorative, not edible, and forgot it even existed. (Me after clambering up to remove the jars on the top shelf: “We had fusilli up here?”) Four-year-old pasta would have pleased nobody.

Next-morning update: Stirred/shook the jars today; the color has already leached out of the strawberries — zombie strawberries! — and the star anise is the front-runner as far as infusing flavor/scent into the product, leading even the Jolly Rancher candies, which have yet to fully dissolve. Most of these will take about a week before I can remove the ingredients, and many should sit for about another week just to let the flavors settle and age (apparently).

The shorts: Drawstring-waist jersey sleep pants from Go Software.
I probably picked them up at a Rainbows Festival 4 or 5 years ago.

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