Here's a tip that'll stand you in good stead as you hone your home-bar skills while waiting for your favorite watering hole to reopen: "Infusions aren’t just one more esoteric ingredient in inventive cocktail-making"; nor are they just "another feather in the cap of the able home bartender."
Instead, "they represent a whole new approach to creating distinct, unique, complex building blocks of deliciousness," from which you can create signature cocktails of your own.
So says Adam Sachs, bon vivant and former editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine, in his foreword to one of our favorite new cocktail books of the season, The Infused Cocktail Handbook: The Essential Guide to Homemade Blends and Infusions, by Kurt Maitland, from Cider Mill Press.
"You don’t have to be a habitué of hipster temples of haute mixology to benefit greatly from this ingenious book," Sachs points out, because Maitland consulted the owners of some of the world's best bars, such as New Orleans' Belle Époque, to source recipes and techniques for creating some truly tasty drinks.
"Here we enter a realm that is closer to the world of cooking," as Sachs notes, "the alchemy of turning everyday ingredients into something grander than the sum of their parts."
One key takeaway, whether you're prepping mint-infused bourbon or something more complex like rosemary and pepper-infused grappa: don't rush things. Because, as Maitland writes, "Most infusions take time."
"The cocktail itself will be quick to prepare," he elaborates, "but you will need to look at the recipes well ahead of time "in order to acquire the ingredients required to make all of the components, and also factor in the amount of time needed to prepare the infusions."
Most important of all, once you've acquired your new infusion skills, invite friends over to help you test them out.
Because as Maitland puts it, "On its own, a cocktail book is nothing more than a collection of thoughts, ideas, and suggestions. It is when you share and enjoy what you've learned with friends and family that it becomes something else."