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Kent Wang

Sous vide spirit infusions

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I couldn't find much on this subject on Google other than:

Jacob Grier does a tasting with Aviation gin infused with juniper berries at 140F. He concludes that the heated infusion is stronger tasting but that just heat (a bag with no juniper) also alters the flavor.

Justin Guthrie of Central in DC does an infusion with curry powder at 130F for just a few minutes.

What benefits from a sous vide infusion? Spice and teas make sense because they develop their flavor with heat. But how about fruit infusions like strawberry or pineapple?

What do you think the ideal temperature is?

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My favourite bar around town, Der Raum, uses sous vide for their infusions. Not sure how this process changes the end result, but the heat makes the infusion happen a lot faster, for one. Might ask the bartenders there some day.

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The purpose of using bags for irregularly-shaped food items is clear, but is there a purpose to using them in a primarily liquid infusion? Why not just toss the solids in the bottle of hooch (or other glass jar) and immerse the whole thing in the water bath? I rather suspect that the peculiar flavors being picked up without an infusing solid may be from the bag itself--140F is well within the realm of what can be achieved in a vehicle in a Texas summer, and while I try to avoid subjecting my liquor to that kind of stress, I've never actually noticed any adverse effects on spirits. Wine of course is another matter entirely.

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Hey all, as an experiment we have been using the sous vide method to infuse various flavors of Vodka.

I have infused vodka before using time and a dark cool room, but the sous vide method is a lot quicker, four to six hours versus a month.

If anyone is interested in recipes, times etc. let me know and I will start posting our recipes as we come up with them.

So far we through together vodka with chiles and sun dried tomatoes for Bloody Marys and a bacon infused vodka as a "for fun" idea. The Bloody Mary vodka so far is the winner. Next in line is a lemon (or mixed citrus) and a basil something, still not sure on that one.

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Would love to see your recipes and photos of course ;). I just might try horseradish infused vodka. What temperature do you infuse at?

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We used the Modernist Cuisine as a guide. We used 122F for three hours. Had great results then did a second larger batch at eight hours. The second batch had more flavor, but not significantly more.

Pictures attached.

I think you could have great luck with the Horseradish Vodka, let me know how it goes and the temp etc.

Bloody Mary Vodka.JPG

Infusion 2.JPG

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The purpose of using bags for irregularly-shaped food items is clear, but is there a purpose to using them in a primarily liquid infusion? Why not just toss the solids in the bottle of hooch (or other glass jar) and immerse the whole thing in the water bath? I rather suspect that the peculiar flavors being picked up without an infusing solid may be from the bag itself--140F is well within the realm of what can be achieved in a vehicle in a Texas summer, and while I try to avoid subjecting my liquor to that kind of stress, I've never actually noticed any adverse effects on spirits. Wine of course is another matter entirely.

Over two years later (and having completely forgotten about this topic) I can return to confirm that infusing spirits in sous vide works just fine in large mason jars, which also have the advantage of being reusable. No need to fiddle with potentially leaky bags.

When I worked at Jeffrey's in Austin, we did a meyer lemon infusion sous vide. As NMC indicates, the advantage was primarily that potent infusions could be relatively rapidly created--overnight or so in our case rather than waiting a few weeks.

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Wow, we did not even think of using a large bottle versus the bag. The bags worked well though considering afterwards we just reused the orginal vodka bottle to store the booze. Thanks for the suggestion!

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What temperature did you use for the meyer lemon?

Sorry to say I don't remember, it was actually something we would assemble in the jars and the kitchen would "cook" for us, I feel like it was in the 60s or 70s Celsius but that I don't know if that's helpful at all.

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There's not even much need to do this in a heavily controlled way. There are bars I know that do their infusions by putting the herbs/spices/citrus/whatever into bottles with the booze and putting them all into a sink of hot water. Taste a sample bottle periodically until the desired flavor is reached, then chill and strain.

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There's not even much need to do this in a heavily controlled way. There are bars I know that do their infusions by putting the herbs/spices/citrus/whatever into bottles with the booze and putting them all into a sink of hot water. Taste a sample bottle periodically until the desired flavor is reached, then chill and strain.

I was wondering about this. It's not like cooking slowly at low temperature, it's heating to speed things up. It seems that the only issue is not heating so far that flavours change. Seems you could heat the infusion up to the right temperature and put it in a Thermos bottle until it's done.

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