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I’m ready for Summer and Summer in the 573 is full of swimming, bar-b-ques, and float trips…all of which can be an opportunity to impress friends and family with some tasty, creative cocktails. To make these summer cocktails truly original, we’re going to start with some fresh tasty liquor infusions using local seasonal ingredients. Unlike flavored liquors made from artificial ingredients, we’ll know exactly what’s in our infusions and they’ll actually taste authentic. Now this may sound a little intimidating, but it’s actually really simple and a surefire way to impress guests at your next party.

To make your infusions, simply combine your fruits or herbs and liquor in your mason jars and put them in a dark place. The length of time for infusion is the major variable in the process…the softer items like the honeysuckle will only need a week or so, while the harder items like the herbs will need closer to two or three weeks.

When you’re ready to stop the infusion process and use your infused liquor, you’ll need some cheesecloth, a funnel, and the bottles the liquor came in. To get started, take the lid off a Mason jar, stretch the cheesecloth over the mouth of the jar, and screw the rim of the jar over the cheese-cloth; this will work as the filter. Next, place the funnel in the original liquor bottle and pour the infused liquor back in the bottle.

To mix up some amazing cocktails, you’ll need a shaker, some ice, and a few additional ingredients.

For our Honeysuckle Hard Lemonade, combine about 2 ounces of the Honeysuckle Lemon Vodka, lemonade, a little club soda, and ice in the shaker, give it a good shake, pour it in a Mason jar, garnish with a lemon slice, and enjoy! If Honeysuckle isn’t in season, you can also use any fresh berry that is.

I’m So Infused

To start the Watermelon Margarita, blend some fresh watermelon to make juice. In your shaker, combine about 2 ounces of the Watermelon Lime Tequila, watermelon juice, the juice of a half lime, a splash of club soda, and some ice. Shake it up, pour it in your margarita glass, garnish with a slice of lime and/or watermelon and enjoy on a hot summer day! If you’d rather have a blended margarita, freeze your watermelon, and combine everything in the blender rather than the shaker.

To make our Peach Manhattan, add some ice to a rocks glass, splash in some bitters, pour in about 2 ounces of the Peach Bourbon and 2 ounces of sweet vermouth. Garnish with a fresh cherry and/or a slice of peach and sip away! If you can’t get good fresh peaches, try infusing your bourbon with cherries and vanilla beans.

To get started on our Herbaceous Dirty Martini, pour some ice and water into the martini glass to chill it, and pour it out just before the drink is served. To make the drink, add some ice to your shaker and pour in about 2 1/2 ounces of the Rosemary Thyme Gin, 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth, and 1/2 ounce of olive brine. Give it a good shake, strain out the ice through your shaker into your chilled glass, garnish with an olive and/or a sprig of rosemary or thyme, and enjoy your hand-crafted cocktail! If you’re not a fan of gin, you can also make this infusion with vodka.

This may sound like a lot of work for a cocktail, but believe me…it’s well worth it! These creative infusions and cocktails will taste amazing and blow away any guest who tries one. And if an infusion doesn’t pan out perfectly you can surely mix up a tasty drink that will make it work, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Keep in mind that the idea of liquor infusions is to preserve a seasonal flavor, so as you create, be sure to think local and seasonal. Good luck with your infusion and cocktail creations, and be sure to enjoy them responsibly!

Okay, you have your marching orders—Get Out There!

written by casey reeves

pics by t. smugala


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