We Tried Making 3 Summery Fruit-Infused Alcohols

Photographed by Roxana Azar.
Confession: We're not the best at effortlessly whipping up homemade cocktails. Throwing together a batch of spritzers or making a pitcher of frosé for fast and festive summer sips is one thing. But a specialty vodka, gin, or whiskey drink? That takes mixology expertise and knowledge, or at the very least, a recipe to research and follow.
Which is exactly why we decided to experiment with a tempting cheap and easy hard alcohol hack: at home, fruit-infused spirits. We've seen such bottles for sale on the bottom shelves of our local liquor stores. And we've even turned up our noses and passed them by for the pricier plain options. But making a batch at home from scratch with fresh summer fruit actually holds some Pinterest-like charm. It also holds the potential for sprucing up a cheaper bottle of booze (that we might otherwise render un-drinkable) into a pre-made, and ready to pour on-the-rocks, easy summer sip.
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So we gave it a try with three cheap bottles of booze (vodka, gin, and whiskey) and a handful of fresh fruits and herbs. The best part about this hack? Measurements, preferred ingredient combinations, and timing are all up to you! Scroll on to see which out of the infusions we attempted actually landed a spot on our go-to summer cocktail list and which we'll just be dumping down the drain.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
General Infusing Instructions
Depending upon the size of your particular infusing container (we went with a small mason jar), fill the container about halfway with your sliced fruits, spices, or herbs and then finish by pouring the hard alcohol of choice overtop to cover completely. Seal with a lid and store in your refrigerator for at least one night. Before serving, strain either through a cocktail strainer or a coffee filter and serve as desired.

Vodka + Berry + Herb
For our very first infusion, we went with a vodka-strawberry-mint combination.

Overnight Results
After refrigerating this mixture for one night, the resulting infused-alcohol still had a very strong vodka scent and taste, but with just a hint of strawberry color and tiny bit of flavor. The mint was nearly undetectable. Although not sweet enough from one night of infusing to serve on its own over ice, the mixture would be best served with a simple splash of strawberry seltzer water for a quick flavored cocktail in a pinch.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Vodka + Strawberries + Mint

Five Day Results
The vodka scent had nearly vanished altogether and the liquid itself was a bit thicker and brighter in color. The taste? Surprisingly minty-sweet! So much so that pouring this five-day infused mixture over ice felt like a cool and insanely sippable craft cocktail — that we otherwise would've paid the big bucks for out at a bar.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Gin + Fruit + Spice
While vodka is a fairly "flavorless" alcohol, gin on the other hand has a juniper bite. So for our fruit and spice in this scenario, we wanted to experiment with a sweet fruit that wasn't overly fleshy along with a bit of spice that would compliment gin's juniper notes. So, we gave sliced apricots and ginger a whirl!

Overnight Results
Nearly negligible. While the overnight infused mixture had a slight tint of color from the apricots, the scent and flavor were still pure liquor. We waited for the five day test before ditching this jar.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Gin + Apricots + Ginger

Five Day Results
Slightly stronger tasting notes from the fruit and spice, but still did not produce an on-the-rocks sipp-able final product. Whether it was a matter of gin just having too strong a liquor-flavor profile or the apricots and ginger not being a strong enough sweet and spice match, this jar did not infuse as successfully as the vodka, strawberries, and mint had. That being said, we'd be open to trying this mixture with a bit of tonic water as an apricot ginger and tonic before tossing the batch down the drain.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Whiskey + Dark Fruit
For our cheap bottle of whiskey, we wanted to use a fruit that was dark and fleshy for an enhanced richness and added flavor in the alcohol — so we went with cherries (sliced and de-pitted).

Overnight Results
The overnight results were richer in color than we had imagined they would be — but the general whisky flavor still vastly overpowered any hint of sweet cherry notes. Not unbearable to sip on-the-rocks, but not the mixed cocktail quality we had in mind.
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Photo: Courtesy of Elizabeth Buxton.
Whiskey + Cherries

Five Day Results
Success! The cherry-infused cheap whisky ultimately ended up tasting like a pre-mixed old fashioned — the sugars from the cherries infused nicely with the whiskey flavor for a final richly-colored and tasting product. We'll definitely be tossing back this batch over a giant square ice cube.

Overall Takeaway
If you are looking for fast overnight infusion results, be sure to select fleshier more porous fruits to pair with an alcohol that already has a clean (e.g. vodka) or sweet (e.g. whiskey or bourbon) flavor profile. But, the best results come after the five day marker — if you have the patience and time to spare, letting these batches sit will result in not only a better tasting bottle of spirits but an impressively cheap craft cocktail to boot.
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