The Tom Collins is a classic for a reason: refreshing, botanical and easy to make, it’s a consummate drink for home bartending, whether you’re entertaining guests or relaxing alone. But for those who want to maintain the ease of crafting a simple highball while also adding some complexity to the final product, bartending veteran and educator Charlotte Voisey has a solution: infused spirits.
It may seem a daunting prospect at first, more difficult than simply building a drink with some extra ingredients, but Voisey makes it surprisingly easy with two different forms of infusion: a slow-infused vodka, and a fast infused tequila.
Her recipe for infused Stolichnaya vodka includes lemongrass and pears. She notes that lemongrass has a beautiful and delicate flavor that goes especially well in vodka cocktails. Chopped up coarsely with fresh pear and left to rest for a few days, it creates a bright, lightly sweet and aromatic product that only needs some soda water, lime and simple syrup to make for an impressive drink that’s a breeze to throw together.
Voisey’s recipe for infused tequila is even faster and easier, but it does require some kitchen tools. Namely, it requires a soda syphon—she uses an iSi soda syphon, to which she adds some silver tequila and a fresh bunch of lemon basil, then charges it with two CO2 canisters. The result is a lightly carbonated tequila dense with lemon basil flavors. After some chilled club soda to lengthen the drink, she serves it either over ice or in a Champagne stem for some added elegance.
In addition to the ease of construction, Voisey also notes that infusing the spirits this way allows you to have flavors on hand year-round that you might not have otherwise. She finds her produce at the farmers markets when it is in season, then has it for the rest of the year in the form of an infused spirit.
- 2 ounces infused vodka* or tequila**
- 1/2 ounce lime
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- Club soda, chilled
- Garnish: lime wheel
- Garnish: lemon-basil leaf
Add the infused spirit, lime juice and simple syrup to a highball glass filled with ice.
Top with soda and stir briefly to combine.
Garnish with a lime wheel and fresh lemon basil leaf.
Alternatively, to serve the drink up:
Add the vodka or tequila, lime juice and simple syrup to a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a Champagne flute.
Top with soda and stir briefly to combine. Garnish if desired.
*Infused vodka: Coarsely chop 12 stalks of lemongrass and 4 pears and add to a large lidded jar along with one 750 milliliter bottle of vodka. Seal and shake the jar, then let stand for 3 to 4 days, agitating every 12 hours and tasting after the third day. When the flavor is at your desired intensity, strain and rebottle.
**Infused tequila: Add 8 ounces of silver tequila and 1 cup of lemon basil to an iSi Soda Siphon. Charge with 2 CO2 canisters and shake well. Refrigerate until needed.