Chilli Vodka is an exciting addition to cocktails. But there is a skill to creating the perfect blend tailored to your tastes. Follow my guide to create your ideal heat level.
I’ve gone back and forth mentally over publishing a recipe for Chilli Vodka. My hesitation comes because the heat from chillis, at least where I can shop, varies so much from batch to batch. Those labelled as ‘hot’ are often only mildly spicy whereas a supposed ‘mild’ chilli will occasionally pack a punch I’m not expecting.
My case in point was cooking for my in-laws last weekend. I pulled a chilli from a pack I’d already cooked with, finding the heat previously to be barely noticable. So I threw a hefty load into my sauce, tasted and took a step back in surprise. Then I apologised to my Mother-in-law who enjoys, but struggles to eat really spicy food right now.
With this inconsistency in heat, instructing people to make a batch of Chilli Vodka just as I say is dangerous territory:
- Using a chilli that turns out to be exceptionally mild will mean the vodka is lacking in flavour
- And of course, getting an unusually fiery chilli might mean that a long infusion is a little too punchy to be pleasant
- Finally, let’s face it, we all have our preferred spice level. There is no point ordering the spiciest dish on the menu if you’re really into mildly spiced food
There are just so many pitfalls with a Chilli Vodka recipe. However, I have two superb cocktails involving Chilli Vodka that are ripe and ready to publish over the next few weeks, so I’m taking the plunge.
But to help you achieve a drink that you, rather than I, will enjoy I’ve got some handy guidance:
- Use a cannot fail fiery variety – Birds Eye
- Make this vodka on a day where you are on hand and not required to drive or operate machinery since you’ll need to keep on testing (ie tasting) the vodka at regular intervals. Doesn’t that sound ideal? Hic… But it’s also very necessary, since there’s no better way to ensure you end up with some Chilli Vodka tailored to your tastebuds than to keep on testing it yourself
- Set a timer so you don’t accidentally leave your infusion for too long between tastings
- Taste, taste and keep on tasting. Stop when it’s hot enough for you, regardless of whether that’s one hour or 12 hours of infusing
- Take into account how you intend to drink the Chilli Vodka – neat or diluted with mixers
- If you decide that the batch you have made is, in hindsight, too strong, don’t throw it out. You could just dilute it with regular vodka – use 1 part chilli vodka to 3 parts regular vodka in your cocktails. It also makes an exciting gift for foodie/ drinkie/ adventurous friends – decant into small bottles and gift away
- Don’t forget to clearly label your infusion
That’s my rough guide to making Chilli Vodka. My ideal infusion time is 3 hours, but Chris likes it slightly hotter and prefers the 6 hour infusion. This makes sense, since he will order much spicier dishes than me in a restaurant. Find your heat level and stick to it.
Have you spotted my to fiery cocktails: Chilli Mango Punch and Fireworks on the Beach? They are the ideal cocktails to try this Chilli Vodka out in.
A Rough Guide To Making Chilli Vodka
- 250ml (1 cup) Quality vodka
- 1 Red Birds Eye chilli
- Put the vodka into a wide-necked screwtop jar
- Slit the chilli lengthways and add to the vodka
- Seal, shake gently and leave to infuse for 1 hour
- Dip a teaspoon into the vodka, remove and taste
- IF IT IS AT A HEAT LEVEL YOU ARE HAPPY WITH STOP HERE – STRAIN THROUGH A SIEVE TO REMOVE THE CHILLI AND SEEDS AND POUR INTO A BOTTLE
- Otherwise infuse for a further hour, test again, and continue in this way until the desired heat level is achieved (I like a 3 hour infusion, but tastes vary – please read my guidance notes in my blog post to achieve your perfect blend)
- Once the desired spice level is achieved, remove all of the chilli and it’s seeds and decant into a bottle
- CLEARY label the bottle – helps avoid accidental use
I don’t think I’ve ever actually tried chilli vodka, I do like spicy foods though so I should give it a go! Your guide is very helpful 🙂
Thanks Hannah. I hope you try it out soon – its an exciting addition to a cocktail.
Have you got tips for making chocolate chilli vodka?
I am going to use your chilli vodka advice and this has been very useful. Thank you
Hi Emma, what a fantastic idea. Sadly, it’s not something I’ve tried (why not, I’m asking myself now). However, my advice would be to take a 2 stage approach – first follow a recipe for infusing chocolate into vodka and then infuse the chocolate vodka with the chilli until you reach a level of heat yu are happy with.
I bet this vodka would make a kick-ass Bloody Mary! I am not sure I have ever tried chilli infused vodka but I would be very curious to try it. Perhaps you should host a cocktail party!
I bet it would – it might actually make me enjoy a Bloody Mary more than I normally do. Chilli vodka is new for me this year and it’s becoming a regular feature on my Friday night cocktail making now 😉
I am so with you on the chilli thing, Jane. I once bought a bunch that tasted like bell peppers, no heat at all! I do love this idea though. I’ve never made a flavoured vodka but always wanted to try!
Yes – my first attempt at chilli vodka tasted just like bell pepper vodka after 1 week of infusing – not really the effect I was after. When in doubt, go in strong 🙂
This is such an informative post. I’ve had some authentic chilli vodka from Russia and wow it packed a punch.
Thanks Angela – I daresay punchy heat is not to everybody’s taste but I’m all for strong flavour.