Here at Spoon, we tend to focus on foods, but what is food without a good drink to boot? And even better, a drink with a kick. The human race’s long time love for alcohol can be seen in mythos and drinking culture around the world. However, not all of us can stomach the strong taste of alcoholic beverages without the help of chasers or mixers. If only there was a way to make alcohol not taste like… alcohol.
This video inspired me to look into alcohol infusions as a way to
get drunk drink without feeling like I’ve ingested concentrated NyQuil.
Alcohol infusions work via osmosis — whatever you put into the concoction will essentially release flavors into the surrounding substance, resulting in a drink that tastes like what you infused it with. The video uses shochu as the alcohol base, but ANY alcohol can be used for infusion. I’ve opted to use soju.
What is soju?
Soju is made of rice, wheat and barley, and is considered Korea’s most popular alcoholic beverage. The alcohol content ranges from 17% to 45%, and its taste varies from cheap vodka, to good vodka, to 200 proof moonshine.
It’s smooth, clean and fresh, which means it pairs really well with heavy foods like barbeque. Soju doesn’t have a distinct taste of its own, so it works really well in alcohol infusions. Other alcohols that will also work include vodka and gin. This post will introduce 9 ridiculously easy soju (or any sort of alcohol infusions) that take hardly any effort.
- Prep the ingredients (hull the strawberries, slice the lemon wheels, etc.)
- Combine the ingredients (alcohol base + aromatics + sweetener)
- Store in a cool, dry, and dark place.
- Taste every few days until desired flavor has been achieved. Tea infusions need only a few days, while coffee infusions may require up to two weeks.
- Serve straight, over rocks, with sparkling water, or other mixers.
- Strain the mason jars and discard the ingredients (or eat them) and store somewhere cool and dry. Leaving fruits in won’t negatively affect the flavor, since it will already be saturated with alcohol, but coffee and tea will start emitting more bitter flavors.
1. Coffee Soju
There’s caffeine, there’s alcohol, what’s not to love about this? If you find the coffee flavor too intense, just add ice and top with some milk and you’ve got yourself a soju iced latte.
Ingredients: whole coffee beans, soju, rock sugar (any kind of sweetener works)
2. Earl Grey Soju
I used loose leaf tea bags, so the infusion required a few days. If you use regular tea bags, expect it to be done in a few hours. I added milk to get a boozy milk tea, but you can go the extra mile and make boba to get boozy boba milk tea.
Ingredients: Earl Grey tea bags (looseleaf works, too), soju, rock sugar
3. Berry Mix Soju
A more appropriate name would probably be leftover-berry mix, but it tastes pretty good — like one of those cold-pressed berry juices.
Ingredients: Berries (strawberries, kumquats, goji berries, blueberries), soju, rock sugar
I named this infusion “Penicillin” since I drew inspiration from the whiskey cocktail of the same name. Make sure to use a darker honey like Manuka to compensate for the lack of depth soju has compared to scotch.
Ingredients: Ginger, lemon wheels, soju, honey
5. Winter Spice Soju
The theme with this infusion was something that warms the soul, a bit like a hot toddy.
Ingredients: Dried cranberries, orange peels, cinnamon, soju, brown sugar
6. Vanilla Almond
For this recipe, I was looking for something I could spike a hot chocolate with, hence the cardamom pods and almonds.
Ingredients: Vanilla extract, whole almonds, cardamom pods, soju, rock sugar
7. Butternut Squash Soju
This mixture came out sweet but lacking depth of flavor. Consider adding cinnamon or honey to liven the drink.
Ingredients: Butternut squash, vanilla extract, soju, rock sugar
8. Citrus Mix Soju
A simple balance of sweet and sour flavors that will complement the bitter crispness of the soju.
Ingredients: Lemon wheels, kumquats, soju, honey
9. Strawberry Soju
As this drink did come out a bit concentrated and syrupy for my taste, I topped it off with some sparkling water and it was an amazing way to get tipsy.
Ingredients: Strawberries, soju, rock sugar