Infusing spirits at home isn’t rocket science, but it does require a good deal of patience. Recipes for lemon-flavored vodka or jalapeno-infused tequila usually call for letting the stuff sit around for a week before using it in a tasty cocktail. Luckily, anyone with an iSi cream whipper and five minutes can create a high quality infused spirit that, in many cases, is superior to a long-term infusion. The technique is known as rapid infusion, and here’s how it’s done:
- Pour any spirit into the cream whipper (vodka, bourbon, rum)
- Add your flavoring ingredients (spices, fruits, herbs)
- Charge the whipper with an N2O cartridge
- Swirl the container and let it sit for a few minutes
- Strain and serve
The science behind this is fairly simple. Under high pressure, the alcohol is forced into the pores of the flavoring agent. A rapid release of pressure results in the alcohol escaping from the pores and infusing itself with the essence of the ingredient. For this reason, you’ll have to stick to flavoring ingredients that are porous. For example, chocolate chips wouldn’t work with this method, but cocoa nibs would. Check out our recipes for more examples of suitable ingredients.
Here’s a great video from Dave Arnold of iSi North America, who demonstrates the rapid infusion technique. If you plan on trying this at home, I would highly recommend watching Dave’s video in its entirety. He’s like a mad scientist bartender in the kitchen: