When the Philippines signed the Sin Tax into law, some actually questioned what would happen here in En Route as apparently the writers here have a reputation for indulging themselves in beers, wines, and cocktails in all forms and flavors.
So what ensued? Panic buying, of course. One way or another, the stash would help get everyone through.
But with necessity being the mother of all alcoholic inventions (like that ever-popular “Ang Ninong”), there must be a way to get some great tasting flavored spirits without breaking the bank. The ones with natural tasting qualities are of imported quality, and the Sin Tax measure has made the tax bracket for imported goodies larger than their local counterparts.
So one concerned friend gave the suggestion of creating infusions using natural ingredients. Infusing spirits has actually been known ever since, but modern convenience has made it take a backseat, much like how fast food has replaced “real food”. But with more specialized bars and speakesies striving to create original masterpieces using original infusions, there has been a resurgence of homemade booze ideas.
This was obviously the best solution as natural flavors have the potential to mask bad tasting booze, and to make good ones even better. To prove this, here was an experiment that led to some interesting results.
Get about three to four lemons to use as infusion, and then use a cheap liquor notorious for its sandpaper-like texture such as Cossack Vodka. The rule of thumb is to use about the same volume of fruit as that of the liquor. Slice into wheels, place everything in an airtight jar, and store in a cool and dry place for about a week. Shake every other day to mix the natural oils and the alcohol.
Afterwards, just funnel it back in to the bottle. Use a strainer or coffee filter. Given some lemon fibers will be smaller than the strainer, there will be a bit of sediment in the liquor. This is fine if you are not too particular.
After all, these will be used as the base for some great cocktails. We have used this as a replacement for the Cosmopolitan recipe, and currently a new ginger infused vodka is on the works to replicate some Moscow Mule. Infuse anything you want. Some have placed peppers and chili on tequila, or cherries into brandy, or even basil and rosemary on gin. The combinations are vast.
One thing to note is that the quality of the end product will always depend on the quality of the ingredients used. One experiment with a hopelessly crappy lambanog and orange infusion turned to be something very close to a salad vinaigrette, so you can use bad liquor, but don’t use something too bad that it is beyond the point of infusion salvation.
If you got a good combination, share them here. Together we can fight sin tax without going to jail.
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