Infusions! If I infuse my vodka with horseradish I'll have less to pack and transport, and it won't go bad. Now the experimentation began, because I had no idea whether a horseradish vodka infusion would work. There were some hits and misses, but in the end horseradish vodka was born, along with its companion "The Playa Mary".
To make horseradish vodka, you need two simple ingredients:
- Fresh horseradish root. (Whole Foods, Farmer Joe's, and I imagine other stores.)
- Cheap unflavored vodka. (Imperfections of cheap vodka will be obliterated by the horseradish, so I buy whatever is on sale.)
- A blender or fine grater.
- A couple of intermediate containers, preferably glass. One should have a resealable lid, like a mason jar.
- Coffee filters.
- A funnel or two. I used a standard funnel and a canning funnel.
- A scale.
- A knife.
- Coffee Press (optional, but I recommend it)
- Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool
Step 1: Ingredient Ratios
I've mixed batches with as little as 1oz of horseradish per liter of vodka all the way up to 8oz per liter. All of them have a strong flavor, but the burn does get delightfully more intense in the higher concentrations. Here is a picture of a recent test batch, so you can see the variation in color.
For the purposes of this Instructional, I'll be using a 4oz horseradish to 1 liter vodka ratio. Starting with a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka, I'll be using 7oz of horseradish.
Let the madness begin!
Step 2: Prepare and Mix!
- Fill your 1qt mason jar about half-way with vodka. (Technically, you could skip this step, but your eyes will regret it!)
- Grate the horseradish into the mason jar. Being half-filled with vodka will help reduce the fumes from the horseradish.
- Pour the remaining vodka into a temporary container.
- Using the funnel, pour the vodka and horseradish 'mash' back into the original vodka bottle. Use the vodka from step #3 to wash out the mason jar and flush the pulp through the funnel.
- Top off the vodka bottle with the remaining vodka, and put the remainder back into the mason jar for later.
- Put the vodka bottle someplace cool and dark for the next week. I think it helps to shake the bottle once a day.
Step 3: Filtration
For these steps, the following tools have served me well:
- Coffee press
- Funnel, with flow grooves.
- Coffee filters
- Zip-It Drain Cleaning Tool
- Empty 1.75L bottle with cap
- Put a coffee filter into the funnel, and the funnel into your spare bottle.
- Thoroughly shake your vodka with grated horseradish.
- Then fill the coffee press to within an inch of the top. If the grated horseradish clogs the bottle, I have found a Zip-It drain clog tool works wonderfully for getting the flow going again.
- Press the grated horseradish to the bottom.
- Slowly pour the separated fluid into the filter.
- You can expect that the filters will get clogged several times. When this happens carefully lift the filter out, close the top, and carefully squeeze out as much fluid as you can into the filter. If you squeeze too hard you will rupture the filter. Not the end of the world, as you will need to filter at least one more time anyways. :)
- If there is any vodka+grated horseradish left in the bottle, go back to step 2 and continue from there. You can use the spare vodka left over from the preparation steps to get all the horseradish out.
- It's OK if the vodka is still cloudy at this stage. Coffee filters are crappy filters.
- Place the bottle in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
- Repeat Filtration, sans the coffee press steps, as needed to remove sediment.
Step 4: Conclusion
I previously published a less detailed version of this recipe on my website, under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. Releasing the recipe was an offshoot of a discussion some friends and I had out on the playa about there being a need for "Open Source Liquor". It worries us that only a handful of monks have the recipe for Chartreuse, and we hope Open Source can solve that problem. :)
In the next day or so I'll be posting a sister recipe, The Playa Mary. I will also be posting more pictures as the bottle shown mid-process in my photos progresses towards completion.
If you live in the SF East Bay, I occasionally host a Bloody Mary Brunch at a bar that has an infuser's license and serves my vodka. Drop me a line if you'd like an invite.
Check back soon!