Did you read Frank Bruni’s recent New York Times story about liquor infusions?
All you do is soak something in vodka (or other liquor) to give it a new flavor. It’s easy and fun. Frank tells you all about it so read his story and then go get a bottle of Jack Daniel’s. Years ago I developed some fancy cocktails for a swanky Jack Daniel’s sponsored James Beard Birthday Dinner held at the sleek new Jean-Georges in New York. We served two Gentleman Jack infusions, one with orange, the other with ginger, to complement Jean-Georges’ influential Asian-inspired cuisine. We had to get way ahead of our time to keep up with him.
Nowadays I regularly keep a stash of what we usually refer to as Redneck Gand Marnier in the liquor cabinet. You can either keep the infusion pure, or lower the proof and up the sweetness a la Grand Marnier with the addition of simple syrup. It’s delicious over ice, in a clever Manhattan, even a highball with ginger ale, and is especially restorative served as a hot whiskey during the oncoming cold and flu season. September is not too early to be contemplating the holiday gift business. Imagine the surprise and sheer joy when you present your family and friends with decorated mason jars of Redneck Grand Marnier.
Orange Jack Infusion
4 or 5 large oranges 1 bottle (750 ml)
Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey
Using a sharp knife, cut the zest off the oranges in wide strips. Combine the zest and Jack Daniel’s in a large jar. Store in a cool place for 1 to 2 weeks. Strain and pour back into the Jack Daniel’s bottle. Decorate the bottle with a permanent metallic marker so you know it’s infused.
Or, turn the infusion into a sweet liqueur (Redneck Grand Marnier), Bring 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of water to a boil. Simmer and stir to dissolve the sugar. Cool. Pour the syrup into the strained orange-infused Jack Daniel’s. Store in containers with tight-fitting lids. Decorated quart-size mason jars look spectacular as gifts.