Cranberry Infused Vodka

Picture of Cranberry Infused Vodka

See all those fun infused sprits they have in the liquor stores? They mostly use chemicals and LSD to flavour their hooch. Personally I like the way they taste, but I thought I'd give it a try on my own.

I made a kahlua a few years back, and tried to reduce the recipe to just a 355 ml (12 oz) bottle, the outcome was a sugary liquor headache that I had never experienced before, or would want to ever again. Lesson learned: Scale down recipes properly. 'Eyeballing it' doesn't work for such a small batch.

Anyways, after countless other variations of this and other concoctions I present, Cranberry Infused Vodka.

What you need:
A mess of Cranberries
1.14 Litres (38.5 oz) of Vodka
A big jug (mine was 5 litres [169 oz])
Siphon hose
Gelatine Finings
Several smaller jugs or bottles to bottle it into
Something to mash cranberries with
A cloth
White Sugar
A large container
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Step 1: Gather

Picture of Gather
Acquire vodka, large jug, sanitizer, and cranberries
I managed to find this sack of crans at work. I work an office job and I showed up one day and there was a crate of these little guys just sitting there (and no, my job is so far removed from fruit, it's not even funny). So either look under your desk at work, wish, or raid a farmers field for a bunch, however you can get them, you'll need about 5 cups (5.2 cups).

The vodka I grabbed is some cheapie from the store. This tasty bevy is going to be served with other ingredients, so there's no reason to bust out for the Belvedere, but if you did I'm sure you wouldn't be disappointed.

Sanitizer can be found at any wine supply store, or U-Brew place. This is the same sanitizer used for sterilizing wine bottles, carboys, primary fermenters, and the like. I grab most of my wine stuff from Wine Kitz (free plug!).
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79spitfire2 years ago
I've made this as well. I used an old sauerkraut jar because of the large opening. I found that it can be stored up to about a year with no ill effects, the flavour does tend to mellow. After that it begins to turn brown. (it was on the back of the shelf! :( ) I understand the comments about sterilizing everything, but I found that a good scrubbing in hot water with soap sufficient. Remember, cranberries have a high acid content (a preservative), your adding alcohol (another preservative) and sugar (another, thought not as effective, preservative!)
79spitfire2 years ago
I've used the leftover berries to make cranberry bread. I don't squeeze the berries as hard. The vodka cooks out of the berries.
I've done elixirs like this alot, its cheap and I like the satisfaction of know i made it. done pineapple, orange, lemon, lime, strawberry (favorite), pear, vanilla, Cinnamon (last two were not good), mango, blackberry, blueberry, and cilantro (which was terrible). Generally I dont sweeten till the end cause some flavors are much more naturally sweet. and youre right, you can use bottom shelf stuff with great success, the fruit soaks up alot of the junk that hasn't been charcoal filtered out, but it does turn out a lil better if you use middle quality stuff. I suggest Sobieski, Svedka, or Boru. you can get a handle of Boru at total wine stores for like 13 bucks. best deal around. Other then that i like that you clarified the liquid, personally i jsut use cheese cloth, and don't take anything else out, its a nice bonus for me. for your carboy replacement, jsut go to a thrift store and get an old mason jar (well a big one) or an old glass flour jar with the rubber sealing lid. works perfect. But great job :)
frankens4 years ago
When I make cranberry sauce they split open when cooked, so that might work. You could nuke 'em in the microwave if you didn't want to add the liquid you'd need to if you heated them on the stovetop. Or put some in a large ziplock bag and go over it with a rolling pin. Or make your kids do it. Isn't that what they're for?
ewfw frankens3 years ago
My thought too. Since you add a simple syrup boil the cranberry's in it.
wushuair5 years ago
I was recently given a vodka cookbook, and they had recipes with cinnamon apple. Being more adventurous, I wanted to try Mango and Peach. For the cinnamon apple, they had put the apple with a cup of sugar and let it sit for a couple days before adding the vodka, which was the process that I followed for the mango and peach. However, I'm really worried about the sterilization of the jars I used. What I had done was washed the jars then set them upright in a pot of boiling water. The water in the pot only came about an inch to three inches up to the jar and the jars were filled with water. I don't know how hot the jars were when they were taken out, but I'm guessing around boiling point. However, the water in the jars didn't look like it was boiling. I had then mixed my peaches/mangoes (when the jars cooled) with a cup of sugar and they are currently sitting in a dark, dry place, sealed, for about 4-5 days now. I'm gonna add the vodka soon. Are there any sterilization concerns I should note? Any input is appreciated..thanks!
mikeasaurus (author)  wushuair5 years ago
Hey wushuair, concerning sterilization:

Your comments:
"What I had done was washed the jars then set them upright in a pot of boiling water. "
"the water in the jars didn't look like it was boiling "
concern me. I wouldn't trust it.
I understand why you chose this method, however it's just not practical for most types of bottling. Hot (boiling) water should work, but how awkward is it to handle, are you sure you got every surface, can your boiling pot accommodate different types and shapes of bottles? All very important questions when dealing with sterilization.

You could have some very potential problems regarding sterilization, but maybe not. Using distilled spirits like this has some advantages, namely the high alcohol content which would aid in fending off bacteria. However this is almost a moot point considering the high sugar content used in many steeped drinks which are a food source for wild bacteria to feed on.

The solution for this is to buy some sanitizer from your local brew shop. It'll be a pink powder sold at a reasonable price. You won't need much, just follow the instructions, usually a small scoop added to 5L of cold water will work. An alternative to this method would be to use bleach. yes, bleach.
With the bleach method you will need to be more fussy about rinsing and cleaning but it will work. Mix a solution of 70/30 bleach to water and bathe your bottles in the solution, then rinse, and rinse again until your bottles aren't slippery any more. This method is less ideal due to the nature of bleach being pretty terrible stuff if consumed, but the result is the same. I've also seen an iodine sanitizer, but wouldn't recommend it as the pink sanitizer is easier to handle and less harmful, and the bleach is more readily available. Personal preference is everything, they all work.

I hope I answered your questions and this helps, chances are your brew will be fine, after all you washed and (attempted) to sanitize, and unless you are brewing a beer or wine which requires yeast to ferment you should be safe.
When your brew is finished don't forget to post some pictures here and the recipe you used, that would be awesome!
(removed by author or community request)
AA : When I was little (really little, like 4 or 5) my aunt would buy me and all my cousins tiny bottles of wine for Christmas. We all got looped and no one cared. We all had a glass of wine at holiday dinners, and know what? None of us are addicted to alcohol today. In Europe kids are allowed wine at meals with their parents. The USA is too tied up with the Puritan ethic.
omnibot Phoghat6 years ago
Actually, that's not true for all of Europe. Especially here in scandinavia we have a very strict alcohol-legislation. Those countries that have a more open approach have increased alcoholism, a higher mortality rate and more violent crimes. Here in Sweden this was part of the reforms in the 50's when we kept the monopoly for alcohol after the war since it had a positive impact on citizens health. Previously the average man was not expected to live beyond 35 years. The suffering of mothers and children from abusive, alcoholic fathers was a great problem causing great costs all over society. One great reason why it remains so restricted today is that in the past factory-workers were kept down by a constant supply of booze because alcoholics will take worse jobs for less money and doesn't form unions and fight for their rights. I certainly think alcohol has a place in todays society but here in Sweden, after massive campaigns and much hard work for over fifty years 1 in every ten car is driven by someone with to much alcohol in their blood and that is the main cause of accidents.
HAL 90007 years ago
wow, cool idea, I'm suer ill give this a try as soon as i can get some vodka thats not stolen from my parents liquor cabinet... but why go through all the trouble sterilizing everything? Thats what alcohol does. i can understand washing the cranberries (although im sure theyre washed after the harvest) but sterilizing the jug? Whats the point?
Do what we did: slip some homeless guy $5 and have him buy some for you
omnibot Phoghat6 years ago
You know, that's not a very good suggestion at all. Minors should be kept from accessing larger quantities of alcohol since it's an increased riskfactor for developing alcoholism later in life, as a pharmacist I'm surprised you would suggest it. As for a minor to start approaching random homeless people on the street .. that is potentially very dangerous and quite frankly it's disrespectful to take advantage of people down on their luck.
mikeasaurus (author)  HAL 90007 years ago
Sterilization is a leftover habit from wine making. You're probably right about the high alcolhol content 'killing' any bacteria, but experience tells me you're asking for trouble if you introduce a potential of rotting fruit to sugar, and a warm temperature. I'd rather not risk it, besides it's a pretty short additional step int eh whole process. Good observation though, I was wondering if anyone would call me on that. If you have success doing this without sterilizing your equipment you can save yourself a few bucks on the pink stuff, but it's handy to have anyways. Let me know how yours turns out, I might just omit this on my next batch!
I was curious about that too. There's an episode of Good Eats where Alton Brown uses cracked black peppercorns to infuse a bottle of vodka over the period of a week. Which I've now done! It smells wonderful, but I haven't had the right situation to try it out yet. One day, the bloody marys will be outstanding. I think the cloudiness of it adds to the appeal. But I didn't sterilize because the instructions didn't say to, and I'm hoping future endeavors in other flavors don't require it. My friend wants to infuse vodka with dried mango slices, which are already the consistency of gummy bears. He's just going to run them through the food processor, and probably won't even filter them out when it's ready. I think I'd drink that straight.
markvid6 years ago
hi. I'm not very expert in liquors, wines etc, but i guess i know some. Gelatine and that stuff you add to make the drink clearer probably works, but i expect only low-class drinks to use it. Clarity can be reached trough a complete process in the production of ethanol in the drink. For example when you produce wine, it looks rather dull before the process is completed; then it becomes clear. In other words, if you do things properly, you shouldn't even need any gelatine. And IMHO, i don't think adding syrup is needed in your recipe; glucose is added to drinks in order to be transformed in ethanol by yeast. But since you use sanitizer in every passage, I doubt there is any in the mix. That's probably why your drink is cloudy and you need to add gelatine.
Phoghat markvid6 years ago
Man, you don't know jack. Did you ever see a sommelier decant a a very old, very expensive bottle of wine? That's so the sediment doesn't get poured into your glass. Then again, it must be cheap and poorly made if it's got stuff floating around in it.
markvid Phoghat6 years ago
that's what i meant to say. but before it's wine, it's dull.
mikeasaurus (author)  markvid6 years ago
Thanks for the comment, here's the real deal.

Gelatin finings are not restricted to low-class drinks, in fact the caliber of your product has nothing to do with using gelatin. It's all to do with the particle count of whatever ingredients you are using. So if you are using raw grapes or berries to make your mixture then you're going to have plenty of particles floating around (which isn't gross, in fact it's natural!).

Actually real clarity is reached in one of two ways, and in many cases both:
1) filtering. I mention it somewhere else in this Instructable, but filtering will increase the clarity of your product. The best method of filtering is a pressurized method which forces the liquid through a filter (Commercial wines use this method, the wine is pumped through a sandwich of filters and comes out really clear on the other side.)

2) Racking. This method is also explained in the Instructable. Racking is a fancy way of siphoning the liquid from one container to another without disturbing the sediment settled on the bottom. The partner of racking is time, as over time your liquid will settle more.

I'll admit that gelatin finings are not mandatory for this. If I had a better filter system I would use it. However this method (like racking) is passive and worked perfectly for such a small batch.

"i don't think adding syrup is needed in your recipe; glucose is added to drinks in order to be transformed in ethanol by yeast. But since you use sanitizer in every passage, I doubt there is any in the mix. That's probably why your drink is cloudy and you need to add gelatine."
I think you are getting different things confused here. The syrup used was for sweetener, if this step was omitted then the mixture would be very bitter (cranberries are by nature a very bitter fruit). The alcohol content was not increased by the addition of syrup. The only way that this would happen is if I had put yeast in the mix (which I did not and is not mentioned in the article). Also yeast only works up to around 14% ABV, then the mix becomes too potent and kills the yeast, to achieve higher alcohol by volume you will need to distill, but that is a different Instructable altogether, so I chose to use just straight vodka instead, hence the title "cranberry infused vodka", not "distilled cranberry mash".

Thanks for the comments markvid! These are some very fine points which may have been lost on the kids sitting in the back row. Have you made some infused drinks of your own? I'd love to see them, post some pics!
I've got a few more recipes I'd like to try out. In America they have Everclear which is pretty much ideal for using in recipes like this, however our Canadian dollar is less than attractive for me to make a trip over there right now.
I must haven't been very careful in reading some pieces of your instructable, sorry. I confused with some other instructable, where they used syrup to make an alcoholic drink, maybe was something about how to make limoncello. So basically what you did was to flavour your vodka, right? Well it's cool then. I haven't made any drink yet, maybe i will but i think i'm more interested in the distillation process, also because it's something we studied at universtity. Is everclear just pure alcohol (about 95%)? In this case it can be found also elsewhere, maybe by another brand. In using it you should be careful though, and calculate the right alcohol percent you want for your drink, or you could have some unpleasant surprise... ;-) Thanks for the answer, marco
mikeasaurus (author)  markvid6 years ago
The closest stuff I've found in Canada is 50% (100 proof) which is pretty close, however not the same as [ everclear], which is potent at 75.5% (151 proof), colourless, and tasteless.

Those crafty Americans don't let us have any fun :(
gjm6 years ago
I've did this last summer with blueberries and it turned out great. I used a 3 liter canning jar with a rubber gasket that I bought at a grocery store; this made it very easy. I did'nt bother with the gelatin and my brew was quite clear. The most interesting thing was the color; it turned a deep purple.
maven7 years ago
alcohol is not actually all that good at killing germs. That's why they swab you down with iodine for even minor surgery. My mother is an RN and says it is used just to clean surface dirt from injection sites.

I am going to make the vodka, and want to serve it in these.
Anyone have an instructabe for making them???
If thats true, it kinda makes you wonder why the people who make purell and similar hand sanitizers claim that it kills 99.9% of germs on the hands (excluding a bacteria that uses spores to reproduce)... and the main ingredient is alcohol.
As you will note, I said, "alcohol is not actually all that good at killing germs" not that it didn't work at all.
As you will note, I was only stating that if its not that great then why are they claiming it is? Bashing Purell, not you.
Ah, gotcha! Lack of inflection in the medium strikes again. I guess that dollar is a big inducement.
bustedit6 years ago
someone mentioned in another Ible that they freeze their berries, which then split and pop naturally w/ zero effort.
I'm sorry but i have a VERY hard time believing that company's use "LSD to flavor their hooch". i have never heard of any such practice before and find it HIGHLY UNLIKELY considering Lysergic acid diethylamide is labeled as a class one drug (at least here in America). i would appreciate it if you would provide some hard evidence toward your claim before you make such serious accusations .if you're not referring to Lysergic acid diethylamide, then i hope you would clarify as to what LSD your are referring to. Aside from that, it was a nice instructable.
i was thinking the same thing (and thinking i should drink more flavored vodka)
it's humour dude, We all know they really flavor the vodka with lead and antifreeze.
Yeah, who in their right mind would use all their good acid to flavour cheap vodka? - unless they used the brown acid... No wait, that's what's in Tim Horton's coffee.
someone who want's to play a really nasty but potentialy hillarious trick on someone... Bert: I'm really nervous about this really importent job interview Bill: Here, have a swig to calm your nerves (hands bert a hip flask) Bert: Thanks. Interesting flavour, is it just vodka or have you flavoured it?
A fella in my high school once slipped a blotter hit into the cafeteria supervisor's drink (think it was ginger ale, not vodka, in this case). I can't remember if that was the trick that got him expelled. Same guy later slipped some e into his sister's sandwich. What a joker, ha ha ha. I'm not sure if anyone has killed him yet.
that must have been bloody scary for the guy, he would have probably freaked and the trip would have turned bad.
Caf. supervisor was (as far as we could tell) a woman. I don't know exactly what happened, or even if she actually consumed the hit. I wasn't there at the time.
atom7 years ago
a little late, but; "girl drink drunk" on Kids in the Hall"....pure genius! i miss that show.
phildavi7 years ago
Since you make wine,it'd be better to make cranberry wine..usual process of must,all purpose yeast and invert sugar and fermentation and straining.You'll get probably 15% alcohol on the meter.Then you can add vodka and call it fortified cranberry wine. Ofcouse I'll try out your recipe and also the wine.The taste of both these may be different.Nice recipe.Worth a try. Have you thought of making cranberry syrup and using it to pep up your vodka!I make syrups of all etc and add to make vodka/baccardi/gin cocktails!Please give it a bash!
Fascinating instructable. Well done! I have seen a similar project in which an imitation Limoncello (Italian lemon liquer) was made with everclear, simple syrup and lemon peels. My question to you is this: could you feasibly make a chili pepper infused tequila? If so, would you use fresh or dried chilis?
mikeasaurus (author)  fixxieCorazon7 years ago
Hey there, thanks for your input! I've made Limoncello before a few times, each more bitter than the last (the way I like it!). As for your question, I'd do both. Similar to how mine was made, add the chili flakes (I'd experiment with amount) to the tequila then strain them out after a month or so, then pop in the chili pepper(s) and let steep for a while. The only concern I have is that dried flakes might make it taste a little 'dirty' for lack of a better word, as fresh peppers are so much more flavourful, but you never know if you don't try. Good luck! And don't forget to post your results! (Bonus: try adding some sun-dried tomatoes with the flakes and strain them out too after a month, it'll add a new dimension to your tequila!)
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