It’s never too early to start thinking of Christmas gifts for your loved ones. While there is nothing wrong with store-bought gifts, homemade gifts are appealing to those who want to add a more personal touch to their presents.

To get your creative juices flowing, here is a Christmas gift idea that is sure to bring a big dose of Christmas “spirit” (in this case, vodka and gin) to its recipients. Infused spirits are a good way to show your friends how much you care while also adding something extra to their usual repertoire of liquor. We recommend using a mid-range spirit for this, since infusing top-shelf liquor is impractical (since it will mask the natural taste, which you are paying for) and expensive, and no amount of infusing can elevate low-quality booze. So choose a decent spirit that will allow the flavors to shine.

spirits
Grey Goose Vodka and Bombay Sapphire

Basil and Strawberry Infused Vodka

strawberry

Vodka is the most common spirit that is used for infusions. Clear and smooth, it absorbs herbs and fruit flavors well. The vodka with strawberry and basil will have a sweet fruity taste mixed with herbal flavors from the basil. The strawberry will lose its color and impart a pinkish tone to the spirit, making the bottle resemble a color of a light rosé (minus the bubbles).


Ingredients:

  • 500 ml vodka (We used Grey Goose. Stolichnaya is also a solid mid-range option)
  • 10 to 14 fresh strawberries
  • 15 basil leaves

Container: Glass container

Choose an airtight container, bottle, or jar. Make sure the container is made of glass and not plastic, as alcohol can leach chemicals from plastic. Clean the container well to make sure there are no particles that may affect your flavor infusion and make sure it is dry before you begin.

Directions:

  1. Wash fresh strawberries and basil leaves.
  2. Slice the strawberries in chunks and add to the container. Make sure the strawberries fill up 75% of the container.
  3. Clap the basil with your hands to release its flavors and add it to the container.
  4. Fill with container to the top with vodka and seal. Make sure that the basil is submerged in the vodka.
  5. Seal the container tight and store in a cool, dry place. After 48 hours strain the basil out. The taste depends on personal preference so make sure you taste your infusion to determine if you need to add another day before you take out the leaves.
  6. Leave the strawberries in for at least one to two weeks for a deeper flavor before straining the bottle.
  7. Check the infusion daily and make sure you shake the container gently to even out the flavor.

Lemon, Pepper, and Rosemary Infused Gin

lemon-and-rosemary

Gin is a great spirit to use for herbal infusions since they add and complement the botanicals already present in the gin. The gin infused with lemon peel, rosemary, and peppercorns will have a cool citrus taste and a spicy finish. The rosemary’s aromatic nose makes the infusion smelling like Christmas in a bottle.


Ingredients:

  • 500 ml gin (Bombay Sapphire)
  • 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • lemon peels from 1 large lemon
  • half a teaspoon of black peppercorns

Container: Glass container. Choose an airtight glass container. Make sure it is dry and clean.

Directions:

  1. Wash the rosemary and lightly pound with a muddle or clap in your hands to release the oils.
  2. Put the rosemary in the container.
  3. Peel the lemon zest into long one inch width strips and add to the container.
  4. Add the peppercorns and fill the container with gin until it reaches the top.
  5. Seal the container and story in a cool, dry place.
  6. Shake the infusion daily to even out the flavors.
  7. After a few hours, the rosemary will turn brown. Leave it for three more days before removing the sprigs together with the lemon peel.
  8. The peppercorns will make the gin spicy, so you have to taste the mixture every day until you have your desired spiciness. For this recipe, you can infuse the peppercorns for three to five days.

Infusing tips and things to consider 

There are different herbs, spices, and fruits you can use for infusions. You can look at the kinds of flavored vodka out there as a starting point to get a sense of what would go with it and get creative from there. Store your infusion in a cool, dark place and shake it three to five times a day for the duration of the infusion. On average, the ingredients should stay in the liquor for three to five days.

1spices

The infusion times differ based on the flavors you put in; the more intense, spicy flavors need a shorter time (like hot peppers, which infuse faster) than mild flavors that you can infuse for two weeks (like pineapple, ginger, and lemongrass). Intense herbs and spices like rosemary, mint, cinnamon, and vanilla beans can be left in the container for around three days and moderate flavors like mangoes, strawberries, and melons can be left for a week.

You will need to taste it every day to see if the spirit has the flavors you want. You don’t want to over-infuse your spirit, as you might not be able to enjoy it. The key is to experiment. You will need some time to see what works for your palate and what you want to create. Make small batches at first (don’t use a whole bottle just for one infusion), and take meticulous notes on what you’ve put in and the infusion times. This will help you once you’ve found the combination you’ve been looking for.


The Gift Set

gift-pack

Now here comes the crafty part. Arrange the gift set in a basket or a wooden box. You will need a dark canvas cloth, Christmas ornaments, linen twine chords, and a Christmas card.

what-youll-need

Arrange the canvas inside the wooden box and place the infused bottles of spirits. You can add in two other ingredients the recipient might want to use with the spirits to create a craft cocktail, like flavored syrups and some fresh citrus. Add a little shaker or bar spoon and a nice glass as an extra touch. Enclose your gift set in clear plastic wrap. You can personalize a handwritten Christmas card using textured paper. In the card write down the directions on how to store, when to take out the peels and herbs, how long it should infuse, and special recipe suggestions for enjoying the spirits in cocktails.

The infusion can take days, so it’s better to send out these gifts while the fruits and herbs are still fresh so the colors are robust. Your recipients can do the day-to-day checking of the taste so they can remove the particles according to their desired taste.

Cocktail Recipe Suggestions:

what-cocktail-to-make-with-it

Holiday Vodka Spritz
  • 45 ml basil and strawberry infused vodka
  • Anna de Codorniu Brut Rosé

Glass: Festive champagne flute

Directions:

  1. Pour vodka into champagne glass. Top with rosé.
  2. Add some sliced fresh strawberries.

Christmas Gin

Ingredients:

  • 45 ml infused gin
  • Tonic water

Glass: Collins glass

Directions:

  1. Pour gin into a Collins glass.
  2. Top with tonic water.
  3. Garnish with lemon peel and fresh rosemary.

Photography by Chapter One Studio • Food and props styling by Chichi Tullao 

Drinkmanila.com is your learned drinking buddy who can tell you what to drink, what you’re drinking and where to drink. Learn about the coolest and the latest bars in the metro, or the newest beverage or new product out in the market, or have fun creating enjoyable drinks from our features and videos within the comfort of your homes.

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