Sips: Fall Infusions

October 2010

You know it's fall when a gin and tonic has lost its appeal. But thanks to local mixologists—who are using fall staples to put a spin on drink classics—saying "so long" to summer cocktails doesn’t have to be discouraging.

Sean Kenyon, the new bar manager at the Squeaky Bean, has been working with infusions for years. Infusions are flavored liquors made by soaking ingredients in alcohol until the tastes merge. While they’ve been around since the 1800s, when people began using alcohol as a preservative, they're also a great way to update changing tastes.

“Peaches, apples, pears, and other fall tree fruits work best,” says Kenyon, who likes to mix these fruits with Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey. What surprisingly doesn’t work is pumpkin. “Something about the texture,” he explains, suggesting pumpkin spice as an alternative.

Making a great infusion requires inventiveness, creativity, and knowing how to work with seasonal produce. “Some material isn’t as giving,” Kenyon explains, so “knowing how to use the right amount of fusion material” is crucial for a tasty cocktail. Another common pitfall is not knowing how, or how long, to soak ingredients. Kenyon advises opening the skins of fruits and vegetables before immersing them in your alcohol of choice and steeping for only four to five days. Any longer and the viscosity of the liquid could change.

Vodka infusions are the easiest to make since it's a clear spirit, but darker spirits are also useful. Consider making a rock and rye, which infuses lemon juice with rye whiskey and a piece of rock candy. Or leave it to the professionals and visit Osteria Marco, Steuben’s, or the Squeaky Bean for their takes this season.

3301 Tejon St., 303-284-0053