I LOVE flavored vodka. Pour some whipped vodka in a glass over ice and you’ve got yourself a night cap. Flavored vodka is one of the few spirits I will drink by itself on the rocks. I became obsessed with flavored vodkas last summer when a friend turned me onto cucumber vodka (cucumber vodka tonic on the rocks, YUM!) I was genuinely surprised that it didn’t taste like vodka at all; it was delicious.
Since then I’ve seen a bunch of different posts online about infusing your own flavored vodka. I was especially intrigued when I saw someone say they gave out lemonhead vodka as Christmas gifts. I became so excited at the thought of giving out infused vodka as favors for our Christmas party this year. I thought it would be best to try infusing some cheap vodka before committing to the idea at Christmas in case it ended in failure.
I did a little online research and no matter how many different directions I found for infusing vodka it all came down to the same basic idea: soak (desired flavor) in vodka in a sealed container and place in a cool dark place for (anywhere from 2 days to a week). Seemed easy enough.
Brad and I both love Starburst candy, so I figured it would be a good tester for infusing my own vodka. I bought a bag of Starbursts and a bottle of cheap(ish) vodka, then got to work. I opened all of the individual candies and because the bottle I chose had a small neck I had to cut each candy in half. I suggest using a mason jar or something with a large opening instead. Using a small necked bottle caused me a lot of unnecessary extra work. Also to make things easier, I suggest using skittles or some other kind of candy that does not come individually wrapped.
I filled my bottle with (1) 7.2 oz bag plus (1) sleeve of Starburst. Next, using a funnel, I added approximately half of a 750 ml bottle of vodka. The clear vodka immediately began turning light pink.
I then took my bottle down to the basement to permeate for a few days.
After about 3 days I checked on my Starburst Vodka and found a mixture separated into three parts: a darker red orange at the bottom, a lighter pinkish hue in the middle, and a white foam like substance at on the top. The Starburst candies had mostly dissolved but there was still a thin layer of molten candies at the bottom of the bottle. Upon opening the bottle, the liquid smelled sweet like candy, I was sure this was a good sign. Brad and I poured it over ice and waited for the ice to begin to melt, then we each took a drink. I could tell by Brad’s face that he didn’t like it and I could tell by the swill in my mouth why he didn’t like it. Honestly, it was terrible; it tasted as though I had added sugar to a glass of vodka. It was sickeningly sweet with a rubbing alcohol aftertaste. It wasn’t just the taste that was bad, it was the texture - drinks are not supposed to have a texture, but it DID and it was grainy and thick. Brad tried to choke down the rest of his drink in an effort not to offend me. Unable to hide how slowly he was sipping his drink, I said to him “You don’t have to finish that, I’m not going to drink mine either.”
Although the vodka hadn’t turned out as I’d planned, I wasn’t quite ready to give up on the idea. In an effort to save the vodka abomination I bought some coffee filters and attempted to filter out the thick, sugary, grainy texture. I made the assumption that this would be an easy process but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The vodka dripped through the filter so slowly that I thought I had a defective filter. I tried transferring the vodka from one filter to another and ended up spilling vodka all over the counter and onto the floor. This was especially disastrous because Maggie, my dog, seems to think that if something falls to the floor, in the kitchen, it becomes hers. She is such a quick little dog at the most inopportune times (well inopportune for me!). After cleaning the mess I was no closer to having the Starburst Vodka filtered and now had 1/3 less vodka than what I’d started with.
At this point I was determined to not let the vodka win. I would filter that Starburst Vodka come Hell or high water! And I did. After over an hour or so of frustrating filtering I had smooth (mostly) grain-less Starburst Vodka.
Honestly, I was so annoyed at the entire process after filtering, I didn’t touch the Starburst Vodka for a few weeks. Finally, I decided it was time to give it another try. I poured it in a glass over ice and waited for the ice to begin to melt, then I took the tiniest sip...and it wasn’t terrible, so I took a bigger drink. It was smooth, with only a hint of vodka and it actually had a Starburst taste! I felt quite accomplished at the finished product I finally had.
In the end, the Starburst Vodka was a little too sweet for my taste and A LOT more work than I anticipated. I think I’ll stick with purchasing my flavored vodkas, but the experience was interesting and at least I can say I tried it.