Creative combinations of ingredients and high-end liquors are always appreciated.
But in an age where customization is approaching the norm, we kinda want both in our spirit experience. And don’t let the simplistic appearance of the mechanics fool you; when infusion is done well, it is amazing and it can make all the difference between just a tasty drink and a truly memorable one.
Schnitzel Hub, originally at Yonge and Steeles with a second location now at Yonge and St.Clair, specializes in Central and Eastern European cuisine. For those of you who don’t speak European, that means “they really like breaded veal and infused vodka.” So much so that they have a selection of over 40 house vodkas flavoured with just about anything you could want.
If you’re in a sushi-ish mood, their Sea Shot is infused with seaweed and wasabi – yes, it has serious kick. For a more refreshing, unique flavour, their Pickle is infused with cucumber and dill, while Pinnamon is a delicious pineapple-cinnamon combo. Or, if you’re a less adventurous candy fan, you can try their Sweet & Happy; Jolly-Rancher-infused vodka. The list goes on and it’s all pretty great.
And while the process of infusion turns a cringe-worthy shot into a sip-worthy liqueur, these new blends are just as effective at beefing up a complementary cocktail, too.
East Thirty Six has a house-infused pineapple-chili vodka that they use in their brilliantly named Piña Caliente, which also includes mint, syrup, and Tajín Mexican spice. They also serve black licorice and raisin-infused vodka as after-dinner shooters or sipping liqueurs.
Sunday brunch is always a good time when The Thompson Diner takes a Canadian favourite and makes it even more Canadian; their Sunnyside Caesar is not only garnished with a hard-boiled egg and crispy bacon, but its marquee ingredient is bacon-infused vodka (an item also done very well at the Dundas & Dufferin Hogtown Cure).
The folks at Bar Buca have made quite a splash with their beet-infused vodka, using about 210mL of fresh, organic beet juice to fuse with Ketel One and complement their many other homemade cocktail ingredients.
And Northwood slices open fresh vanilla pods, floats them in Spirytus Vodka (the strongest spirit on the commercial market at 95% alcohol) and then cuts the infusion with a simple syrup to make their own liqueur used in two cocktails, L’Eclisse and Indian Summer.
But if you want to go the extra mile while technically staying in the comfort of your own home, there are options; like the Vegas-based Infuse Vodka who can deliver direct to US addresses, allowing your friends South of the Border to get you the perfect long-distance Christmas gift. Their Cinnamon Apple Vodka won Best Flavoured Vodka Overall at the prestigious San Francisco World Spirits Competition and their Mango Vodka earned a bronze medal at the New York International Spirits Competition.
Or, just try it yourself; it’s not difficult. Depending on what you use, you could have a private batch ready for Christmas gifts and definitely by New Year celebrations. There are plenty of websites out there with simple instructions on how to infuse your own vodka, whether you want fruit infusion or a more sophisticated herb and spice infusion.
However you go about it, getting your hands on and appreciating some high-quality infused vodka is a great winter project. Whether you leverage the great bars accessible to you in Toronto or make it a DIY affair, we hope we’ve infused you with enough inspiration to take Vodka to the next level.
And no, infusing it with ‘soda’ doesn’t count.
Cover image from: Eatingrichly.com