I adapted this creation from Marcus Samuelsson’s recipe for Aquavit for holiday gift-giving several years ago but never got around to posting it. The recipe was such a hit and so amazingly delicious, it would have been a shame to keep this under wraps any longer.
I never attempted to recreate Samuelsson’s original recipe, so I don’t know exactly how my infusion differs from his. All I know is that my version is dangerously good!
Samuelsson has a great thing going with his Aquavit, but I made it a bit easier for you. Fresh mandarin oranges, kumquats, and kaffir lime leaves aren’t always readily available–at least in the Northeast United States–so I did some ingredient swapping. I used clementines instead of mandarin oranges, but navel oranges and tangerines work too. Instead of kumquats, I substituted the flesh of lime to get that tangy/sweet flavor. Lime peel (just green part, no pith!) took the place of kaffir lime leaves. Another tip: You don’t need to go with expensive vodka, as the infusion flavor is so strong, but do choose a decent potato-based one.
Before you run out to collect your citrus, make sure you have a very large glass jar or two, whatever can hold around 3 quarts (or 12 cups) of liquid. I had to use two jars. Make sure they are thoroughly sanitized. That goes for the citrus too. Don’t store the jars in the kitchen or other areas that get too warm. I used a nice cool corner of my closet to store the jars.
The resulting liquid will be a vibrant yellow and looks striking in a glass bottle. If you plan on gifting this tasty spirit, find some nice bottles you can sterilize. I’ve used apple cider vinegar bottles, 1800 Tequila bottles, maple syrup bottles…so many options. You can also return the infusion to the vodka bottle for serving at home.
Recipe for Citrus-Infused Vodka
- ½ cup filtered water
- 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and sliced – Using the edge of a spoon is a simple way to peel the ginger and wastes less than using a knife.
- ¼ cup sugar (turbinado, sucanat, or whatever you have on hand)
- 2 small limes (or 1 large lime), peel only – You want the green part of the peel only. A peeler provides more control and you get larger, easier-to-strain pieces than if you use a grater or microplane.
For citrus infusion
- 2 limes, cut into 6-8 wedges
- ½ of small lime (or ¼ of large lime) flesh only, cut into 4 pieces – Remove remaining peel and white pith from lime used in syrup recipe above. Use any remaining lime to squeeze in the water you’re drinking…You ARE drinking water, right? 🙂
- 1 pink grapefruit, cut in half and then sliced to ¼-inch thickness
- 1 orange, thinly sliced to ¼-inch thickness
- 1 lemon, thinly sliced to ¼-inch thickness
- 2 clementine oranges (or tangerines or navel orange or mixture), peeled and divided into sections
- 1 liter potato-based vodka
Combine water, ginger, sugar, and lime peel in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove syrup from heat and let cool. Drop fruit into clean 3-quart glass jar. Add syrup and vodka. If using two jars, divvy up fruit, syrup, and vodka between them. Screw top on jar and let sit at room temperature (or cooler) for 1 to 2 weeks. Pour infusion through mesh strainer into different container to separate fruit from liquid. Discard solids. Pour infused vodka back into original bottle using funnel.