If you immediately think of a can of syrupy fruit with a maraschino cherry on top when you read the word fruit cocktail think again. We’re talking cocktails made with fruit and berry infused vodka. Infusions you can make at home in a matter of minutes. Steer clear of those fruit-flavoured vodkas at the LCBO, it is super easy to infuse your own spirits at home, especially now that Ontario is awash with all manner of fruit, from strawberries to blackberries, rhubarb to cherries, peaches and pears. Vodka, a clear almost tasteless spirit, is the logical choice as a base to concoct your own, uniquely flavoured potent potable. And one that is free of any artificial ingredients. When you infuse your own spirits you can ensure the quality of the ingredients that go into it. Fresh local fruit and berries, in season and perfectly ripe, make such a difference.
Recently we infused a bottle of no-name vodka with prickly pear and it was a revelation; the deep red fruit is sweet and sour and when it steeps in vodka for a few days the spirit turns a beautiful bright scarlet, with just a hint of sweetness and a delicate, slightly floral aroma that is much more pleasing than straight, clear vodka. Poured over a tall glass of ice with a generous splash of tonic and a sprig of mint, it is a perfect early evening cooler. There is virtually no limit to the flavours you can dream up. Leave the fruit in the bottle for 2 or 3 days, then strain out the solids. If you have vanilla beans handy you have the makings of vanilla vodka. Three or four beans-even previously enjoyed beans-is all it takes to turn a bottle of vodka into an amazing, subtly perfumed vanilla vodka. You can leave the beans in, the bottle indefinitely, the longer the better. They will impart a lot of flavour. Mixed with orange juice, your screwdriver becomes magical, a boozy creamsicle. Blended with a handful of ice cubes, and served frothy in a martini glass, it is equal parts classy and fun. Strawberries and cherries also work beautifully. Take a shot of cherry infused vodka and shake it with lemonade, pour over ice and top with soda and a few fresh pitted cherries. It will be the best pink lemonade you’ve ever tasted. Luckily for us, the internet is full of foodies, mixologists, and bloggers who are happy to share their favourite recipes with us. Here are fifty (!) other vodka infusions that we think you will find…stimulating. They range from subtle and sophisticated, like a delicate cucumber vodka to downright decadent. We’re talking chocolate here people. What are you waiting for? It’s time to brighten up your summer with delicious fruit cocktails!