The place that taught me how to make liquor infusions had a beloved phrase that divulged all the secrets of the craft. Do you want to know what it is? Are you sure you’re ready?
Just put the fruit in the booze.
Seriously. That’s it. Once I unlocked this secret, I couldn’t believe I wasn’t infusing sooner. I think liquor infusions in general work best as the base for classic cocktails. Perhaps the single most important advice I can give you about using your infusions is to resist the urge to complicate things — you’ll thank me in the end. You want the end result to taste as fresh as possible. I always had the rule of thumb that if an infusion doesn’t taste good on the rocks, you still have some work to do.
Thankfully, one of my favorite summertime infusions is also the easiest to execute — my dear friend, Strawberry Tequila. All it takes are some quartered strawberries and your favorite silver tequila. The tequila picks up a beautiful fuchsia color, and the flavor is clean and tastes of nothing but fresh strawberries.
I knew from the first taste that I had to make a margarita with it. I got busy on it right away, and I wasn’t sorry in the end. I realized how refreshing it was to have a strawberry margarita that isn’t frozen and syrupy or, you know, served within the confines of a T.G.I Friday’s. I’ve included the cocktail recipe here, (not to be presumptuous, just in case your cocktail instincts are as finely honed as mine) including a recipe for homemade margarita mix. I beg of you, don’t skip that part. It’s central to the whole operation, and I promise you the juice is worth the squeeze.
Developed for Hell’s Kitchen
1 bottle silver tequila
1 quart fresh strawberries, quartered
Combine the tequila and strawberries in a large container with a secure-fitting lid. Reserve the empty tequila bottle. Shake the mixture around a little to make sure everything is combined. Place in a cool, dark place for 1 week. After 1 week, check the mixture. You’ll know it’s ready to strain when the strawberries have mostly given up their color. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and funnel back into the original bottle. Use in all of the things.
Sweet & Sour Mix:
⅔ c fresh squeezed lemon juice
⅔ c fresh squeezed lime juice
⅔ c simple syrup (recipe below)
Strain all ingredients with a wire mesh strainer (to catch any remaining citrus pulp) into an airtight container and shake well to combine. Store in the fridge for up to 1 month.
1 c water
1 c granulated sugar
Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and stir until all the sugar is melted. Take it off the heat and cool completely before storing in an airtight container. Store with your other bar ingredients. Keeps indefinitely.
For the Strawberry Margaritas:
1.5 oz strawberry tequila
.5 oz orange cognac or liqueur (grand marnier or cointreau, respectively)
.5 oz lime juice
1.5 oz sweet & sour mix, preferably homemade
Lime wheels, sliced thin, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Throw in several ice cubes and shake well. A good way to tell if it’s cold enough to serve is when the frost starts accumulating on the outside of the shaker. Once that has happened, strain into a margarita or martini glass. Garnish with a lime wheel and serve.
(you could also increase this recipe as many times as you like for large-batch margaritas…call some friends, you know you want to)